Byline: Mike Imrem
Bobby Knight has become the auto racing of college basketball.
You don't attend for the sport as much for the possibility the Knightmobile de-escalates the event from thrills to spills to chills.
Vroom! ... Vroom! ... Boom?
Friday night's matchup against Purdue was a good example. This was the Big Ten conference tournament but might as well have been the Indy 500 or 24 hours of Le Mans.
Call it the 40 Minutes of Bobby, maybe. Knight should show up for games in a helmet and asbestos suit with an STP stamp on his forehead and Goodyear sticker on his bumper.
And everybody else should be issued roll bars.
Knight is directly across the United Center court from me right now, and the players are invisible. I find myself fixated on the Indiana coach so as to not miss it if he veers out of control, crashes and burns.
What a shame. It used be a treat to watch Knight's Hoosiers and the basketball clinics they inflicted on the opposition.
The motion offense. The crisp cuts. The solid screens. The man-to-man defense. The smooth switches. The boxouts. The hours of practice translating into minute after minute of fundamental execution. The blending of good individuals into a better team.
If only Knight could mind his Ps and Qs the way he designs Xs and Os.
Now you watch Indiana to see whether the guy rear-ends, sideswipes or rolls over a referee, player or team bus. Instead of enjoying an Andretti maneuver a well-oiled machine through traffic, you're waiting for a driver to hit the wall under the influence of his own madness.
Knight maintained control of his emotional wheel on this night. With a final decision pending on his most recent one-coach crackup, he was well-behaved despite having to endure a 76-71 loss to his state rival.
At the end Knight walked toward Purdue's Rod Cardinal, who played valiantly despite a virus. What did he say to the Boilermakers' forward?
"I forget," Knight said before abruptly getting up and walking out of his press conference. …