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SECOND THOUGHTS

Count On Knight's Book to Have a Familiar Script

November 13, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

News item: Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight recently agreed to a $1.25-million book deal with St. Martin's Press to pen his autobiography.

We could not get our hands on the original proposal, so we can only speculate for fun that it went something like this:

Bob Knight: A book proposal by Bob Knight

First, you all would have to be morons--absolute morons--not to publish this book because I have forgotten more about publishing than all you people combined are ever going to know. I will make more money for your outfit than I made for Isiah Thomas and John Feinstein combined.

While it's true I once told a bunch of sportswriters that most of us learn to read and write in third grade and move on, I, of course, am the exception because I stand to make more money on this book than they'll make in their lifetimes. Except for Feinstein, who ratted me out after I graciously allowed him to follow my 1986 team for a season and then had the gall to write about what actually happened.

Also: When, not if, you accept this proposal, I will heretofore be referred to in correspondence as "Coach Knight" or "Mr. Knight." Had that Indiana kid Harvey had the common decency to address me properly, I would not have had to gently tug him by the arm and explain to him how to speak to one's elders, and I would still be at Indiana doing what I do best: Graduate players and mold men.

Another thing: Don't get cute with me regarding titles: This book is not going to be called "The Scarlet Sweater" or "What's Up Knight" or "Intolerance." I've narrowed it down to either "Bob Knight" or "Robert Montgomery Knight." Got that?

I wished for the esteemed writer Dick Schaap to help me on this project but, as you know, his kid Jeremy, who has a long, long way to go to be as good as his father, tried to set me up on ESPN after Digger Phelps and I handpicked him to ask me questions I could turn into monologues.

Sorry, Dick, but he's your kid.

THE MARKET

Marketing is something my wife does. This book will sell because I say it will. It will make "Tuesdays with Morrie" look like flea-market giveaway. They may have to cut down more trees in Oregon for my reprint, which ought to tick off environmentalists. I say, get in line behind NOW.

I will not promote this book. I will go on Larry King because Larry is a true journalist who will call me "Coach" and talk a lot about my 1976 team.

Repeat: No radio interviews, no town-to-town book tour signings. I may sit down with the two or three sportswriters in this country I respect, the same ones I handpicked for my insightful post-firing interview.

Chapter 1: GROWING UP

You were born yesterday in West Lafayette if you think you're going to get 100 pages of psychological drivel out of me in this chapter. Yes, I was an only child and I admired Gen. Patton, but I'll leave the Sigmund Freud babble for Murray Sperber.

Freud had nothing on my buddy Bill Parcells, who once said, "You are what you are."

You'll learn this: I grew up in Orrville, Ohio, and actually liked baseball more as a kid. I played basketball for Fred Taylor at Ohio State and still can't believe I sat the bench behind John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas on the 1960 national title team.

Chapter 2: HUNTING AND FISHING

This book will mostly be about hunting and fishing. I figure 100 pages on how to rig a lure and another 100 on how to load a shotgun. Note: I've said all I'm going to say about accidentally filling my friend's backside with buckshot while we were hunting grouse. He lived, I lived. Next chapter.

Chapter 3: PUERTO RICO

What a beautiful country. In 1979, I guided a United States squad to a gold medal in the Pan American Games. Anything else written or said about my stay there has been grossly exaggerated.

Chapter 4: THE CHAIR

What really happened: During a Purdue game in 1985, I whirled around to congratulate a player for boxing out when my plaid jacket inadvertently snagged on a chair. The chair rocketed across the floor toward people sitting in the wheelchair section. Now, was it my fault they put those people that close to the court?

Chapter 5: REFEREES

Mills Lane was the best I ever saw.

Chapter 6: ALFORD

He played on my 1987 title team. Hit the open jumper. What more could you people want to know on this?

Chapter 7: RELAX AND ENJOY IT

This chapter will explore whatever happened to Connie Chung.

Chapter 8: THAT PERFECT SEASON

We went 32-0 in 1976, but I thought our '75 team was better, before Scott May broke his hand. Would have denied that coach from UCLA his last tainted title.

Chapter 9: NEIL REED

You people ever hear of the Heimlich maneuver? Anyone who looks closely at that grainy practice videotape might deduce that Neil Reed was choking on a chicken bone, and that it took 2.3 seconds for me to dislodge it from his throat. I will illustrate with charts and graphs the life-saving maneuver that Mr. Heimlich developed.

Chapter 10: BRANDED

I told the IU president, Myles Brand, I was sorry back in May. I drafted a 378-word statement, which read in part, "I've always been too confrontational, especially when I know I'm right." And the guy fired me anyway?

Chapter 11: I'LL BE BACK

You can take that, and my check, to the bank.

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