Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight might be one of the few hoops lovers in America who won’t be paying attention to Game 7 of the NBA Finals matching Steph Curry and Golden State against LeBron James and Cleveland on Sunday night. When he sat down with ESPN radio host Anita Marks at a sports memorabilia show staged by Steiner Sports Saturday at Adelphi University in Garden City, Knight told her, “I never watch the NBA.”
That stunning remark took one topic of discussion off the table, but since it’s an Olympic year and several candidates have taken their name out of consideration for the U.S. team because of the Zika virus in the host city of Rio de Janeiro, Knight was willing to weigh in on that subject. “It won’t be just the United States, there will be a world-wide hesitancy to go there,” Knight said.
He suggested the International Olympic Committee should consider choosing the four best sites in the world to host the Summer Olympics and then rotate between those sites to improve the planning.
Of course, Knight is especially proud of the U.S. gold medal team he coached at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles that included Michael Jordan and current St. John’s coach Chris Mullin.
“When I coached, it was in Los Angeles,” Knight said. “There isn’t anything quite as satisfying as beating the best in the world at home. I developed tremendous respect for Michael Jordan. I’m not sure I’ve ever been around anybody that wanted to win more or worked harder than Michael Jordan.”
Having said that, Knight said there’s a difference between being the best player ever and the most valuable player of all-time. “When somebody asks about the greatest players in history, I start with Bill Russell,” Knight said. “More than the best player is the MVP, and the MVP in the history of team sports is Bill Russell. Nobody won more than Bill Russell (two NCAA titles at San Francisco, 11 NBA titles with Boston).”
Maybe Knight watched some NBA games back when Bill Russell was dominating in the 1960s. But it’s never been a secret that he’s not a fan of the NBA game, and so, his disdain for the one-and-done philosophy in college basketball and its impact on the game is evident.
“From my standpoint, I would make it very difficult on the NBA to even have any association with college basketball,” Knight told Newsday. “I think it’s ludicrous the way they take kids away that are certainly not prepared to play.
“I don’t understand the NBA in that, each time they bring in a one-and-done kid, they have to release a veteran player on a roster. I don’t understand why their players association condones that. Certainly, from a collegiate standpoint, the problem for me to think about is: what is the percentage of those kids that leave college that even makes and NBA team? Secondly, once they’ve done that, they can’t ever again play college basketball.”