August 26, 2009
Monday, there was much speculation and gnashing of teeth over whether Bob Knight would accept Indiana University's invitation to a Hall of Fame ceremony honoring his career at the school. The invitation, of course, is much more than just a one-time thing: It's a gesture of the school's changed attitude toward Knight, of the new administration and athletic director's willingness to put the details of Knight's firing behind both parties and welcome him back into what most Hoosier fans lovingly call the "IU family."
The onus is now on Knight. The coach has avoided mention of Indiana for years now, often acting like the school doesn't even exist. Can he go back? Will he? According to close friend Bob Hammel -- interviewed by the Indy Star's Bob Kravitz -- few seem to think so.
"The wounds are deep. Very deep," Hammel said. "He poured his life out for Indiana, and there have been points when it was not only rejected, but he was kind of trashed. Of course that was painful. 'Time heals all wounds' is a theory, but how much time?"
Kravitz also spoke to Dick Vitale, who is apparently Knight's friend -- that friendship always seemed like a one-way street, but I guess that explains why Knight hasn't up and choked Vitale yet -- and Vitale is equally apoplectic. And despite what I wrote on Monday, this probably makes sense.
After all, Knight, for all his coaching acumen and positive attributes, is also a megalomaniac. And Indiana has officially submitted itself to this megalomaniac's will. Most people would probably choose to bury the hatchet and show up at the Hall of Fame ceremony and accept whatever building Indiana eventually decides to name for them; Knight is not most people. He requires something ... more. So if he doesn't choose to show up, if he thinks he shares no blame for the way he lost his job (and the way Hammel's quote sounds, that seems to be the case) maybe Knight will spurn IU yet again.
Or maybe not. Honestly, who knows? Trying to predict Bob Knight's mental state is a futile exercise, and I'll stop now.