I saw with a bit of interest that Bob Knight has a new book that will be released soon. The title refers to the “Power of Negative Thinking” being an approach to achieve positive results.
Coach Knight always has been an intriguing individual with a persona that extends far past Indiana.
Seeing excerpts today made me think back about 13 years ago when Bill Polian and Jim Mora invited him to speak to the team one day after spring practice concluded.
This was right after the news of the Neil Reed incident became public, so I whisked Knight in while reporters had their heads turned, and I held him from sight until the media had departed practice.
We sometimes announced when we would have a guest at practice, but we did not do so in this instance. Keeping things under wraps can help maintain the appropriate practice atmosphere, plus it can allow a visitor to engage with our people without distractions.
I had met Coach Knight previously, but not to the extent he could have remembered. Having a few moments with him was fun.
Being an alum of LSU, we talked about two significant wins he had over the Tigers in tournament play, one in 1981 in the Final Four and another in the regionals in 1987 in Cincinnati.
When it was time to get him onto the field, I figured I would stand close enough to the action so I could hear his comments. Why not?
Polian greeted Knight warmly and Jim did, too, when practice was over. We had a team with young veterans at this point, so a talk from a coaching legend could be interesting.
I was wrong. It was fantastic.
Jim introduced Knight to the players and almost on cue, they took a knee. That in itself was interesting since that only occurs in Hollywood, not after a normal practice.
He spoke about 15 minutes. Knight’s voice was the only sound, and he told the team that spring was the time of year when champions are forged. They are not formed as late as training camp and certainly not during the season.
Like Ali, he harped on the real work being done away from the bright lights. He talked about fundamentals, work ethic and integrity. You could imagine his very first Indiana team had heard this message, along with all those that followed.
His best remark was the mental approach a player had to take in being successful. Knight said, “Mental is to physical as four is to one.”
Again, I am sure he had used that line on countless occasions, but it was timeless. It seemed very original in our setting.
When Knight ended, players and coaches alike introduced themselves and thanked him for his time and comments.
He was around us for maybe 90 minutes, but those were impactful moments.
I don’t know that I will get the book, but I always find Coach Knight an interesting person. I’m not sure many Colts fans knew he met with the team, and his words in the early 2000s certainly did not impede our play on the field.
Tags: Bill Polian, Bob Knight, Jim Mora
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