5 Minutes with Bob Knight
February 19, 2013 – In December, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the greatest basketball coaches in history for a “5 Minutes with…” interview, which will be published in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine – along with the Q&A with P.J. Carlesimo.
I caught up with Bob Knight at the Steiner Sports offices in New Rochelle, New York, and the legendary coach spoke with me about several parts of his life including the early part of his career. Before Knight led the 1984 United States Olympic team to a gold medal and before he guided the University of Indiana to three national championships and before he became the first NCAA Division I basketball coach to win 900 games, he coached the Army Black Knights in West Point.
“The best decision I ever made in my life was to join the Army because it enabled me to coach at West Point,” Knight said. “I could not have had anything better happen to me than that opportunity. The whole atmosphere at a service academy is one of discipline, and that is the case at West Point more so than anywhere else. I had to start practices very early in the morning because my players had so many other commitments. From a coaching standpoint, I had to get the most out of the time that was available to me, and that was one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my coaching career. I learned to stay within real parameters, and that was a very positive thing for me during the next 35 years.”
I also asked Knight what he believed was the most difficult aspect of playing for him.
“I used to have a sign in my office that read ‘This isn’t Burger King,’” Knight said. “’You don’t get it your way. You get it my way.’ Kids who came in from weaker environments had to learn how to do other things besides just shooting the basketball, and that made them better players. I was tough on my players, and my practices were difficult, but everything I did was aimed toward winning.”
Near the end of the interview, Knight posed a question to me.
“What record does [former Yankees great] Hank Bauer hold,” the coach asked.
Off the top of my head, I didn’t know the answer, and as a result, I got a tiny dose of what it must of have been like to play for Knight or to have covered him on a daily basis.
“You really don’t know!” he shouted. “Aren’t you the editor of Yankees Magazine?”
The coach, who was synonymous for taunting underachieving players and members of the media then smiled and shared the answer with me.
“Most people don’t know this, but Hank Bauer holds what might be the most significant record in all of baseball. Hank hit safely in 17 consecutive World Series games. There haven’t been many people who have even played in 17 World Series games. You and I might be the only two people in America who know about this record! It’s highly confidential, but I will let you publish it.”
–Alfred Santasiere III