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Legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight passed away last Wednesday at the age of 83. He will be remembered for his long list of accomplishments, including winning 902 NCAA basketball games, 11 Big Ten championships, three NCAA championships, and an Olympic gold medal. He will also go down in history as being one of the most decorated coaches of all time. Knight was named National Coach of the Year four times and Big Ten Coach of the Year eight times.
However, Knight will also be remembered for his, shall we say, unique coaching style that often resulted in bouts of volatility. Throwing a chair across the court during a game, getting into a physical scuffle with a police officer, and grabbing a player by the throat during practice are just a few examples of Knight’s infamous temper.
Although his approach to coaching clearly worked for players like Michael Jordan, the renowned “Coach K” or Mike Krzyzewski, and Isiah Thomas, how would Knight’s harsh methods fare with today’s youth players?
This was one subject of conversation that took place during Jason Whitlock’s Fearless Army Cookout, featuring NFL Hall of Famers Brett Favre, Warren Sapp, Marshall Faulk, and Brian Urlacher.
“I think we need more of that Bobby Knight today,” said Brett Favre, adding that tough coaching, in his experience, “[weeds] out the weak.”
“I played for many Bobby Knights,” Faulk said. “I’m the player I am because of that,” but “in today’s world, you get a trophy for participating.”
“Am I right in thinking this younger generation couldn’t handle a Bobby Knight?” Whitlock asked.
According to Sapp, it’s not just kids who can’t handle the intensity of a Bobby Knight but also adult professional athletes.
“I was talking to an NFL defensive coordinator the other day, and he said, ‘Man if you tell these kids the truth ... Dr. Reynolds is in your office asking you, what did you say to this man?’ They will go tell the psychiatrist on you now,” he told the group.
However, for Urlacher’s son, who’s currently a high school football player, that’s not the case.
“They get a lot of Bobby Knights,” he said, and “they’re a good football program because of it. ... He likes being coached hard.”
“The kids who can’t take it,” Faulk added, “their parents were the ones who didn’t make it in our era. ... Their kids are the ones that can’t deal with a Bobby Knight.”
“It’s a soft generation in general,” Favre chimed in, “and I think a lot of the blame should be on the parents. ... Bobby Knight would choke someone. I’m not saying that should be done, but there’s a level of discipline that’s missing” in today’s youth.
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