Luke Graham: Knight time isn’t the right time
December 4, 2006
By all means, I am a Bob Knight supporter.
His off the court antics aside, Knight’s the best tactician in college basketball history.
He’s only had one player who has ever been an NBA all-star (Isiah Thomas). He graduates players better than any coach in the nation, demands excellence on and off the court and turns out great players and men who are better people when they leave the program than when they enter it.
But now that Knight is on the verge of becoming the winningest coach in the history of Division I basketball, college basketball fans should cringe.
In the next couple of weeks, Knight will surpass Dean Smith on the wins list. If wins are the benchmark for greatness, then Knight will be the greatest coach of all time.
But Knight doesn’t even crack my top five.
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I put John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith and Jim Calhoun ahead of him. All have more than 700 wins. All have multiple national championships.
Wooden won 11 NCAA championships, including six in a row in the 1960s and ’70s. Rupp has four and Krzyzewski, Smith and Calhoun all have two.
While Knight has three national championships and has coached an Olympic team to gold, to be considered one of the greatest coaches of all time you have to fill three categories: longevity, success and showing an ability to adjust to the ever-changing game.
Knight only fills two of the three.
Rupp and Wooden revolutionized the game. Krzyzewski, Smith and Calhoun have understood the changes and flourished.
Knight has the wins and longevity, but the game has passed him by.
Knight hasn’t taken a team to the Final Four since 1992. Krzyzewski, Smith and Calhoun all have won national championships since then.
Sure, Knight doesn’t get the recruits that other coaches do, but isn’t that more a part of the game than ever before?
Don’t tell me you can’t recruit to Lubbock, Texas.
Last year, the state of Texas had more of the top 150 high school basketball recruits than any other state.
The only argument might be with Calhoun. The Connecticut coach doesn’t get the top recruits out of high school (look it up), yet he still wins and wins often.
If you had to hire a coach to lead a program, would it be Knight or Calhoun?
Calhoun in a landslide.
Knight was a good coach and still might get you into the field of 64. But when it comes to the elite, “The General” has become more like “The Lieutenant.”