Sunday, March 23, 2008

Knight Court

Category: Sports Review

In his time on ESPN, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight has done a remarkable job as a basketball analyst and commentator covering the NCAA men's tournament. He has kept his cussing in check, and he has displayed a sense of humor that is fresh and perhaps surprising to many. For all the litany of controversies in the man's career and a longstanding disdain on his part with the media, Knight had adjusted quite well to life in the ESPN studios.

What is more remarkable than Knight not uttering a profane remark as of this writing is the fact that he can actually operate and put together coherent statements while Dick Vitale is slobbering all over him. Vitale's over-the-top hero worship is positively embarrassing. During the NCAA Selection Show, Vitale turned everything uttered into a chance to sing the praises of Bob Knight. Case in point: Vitale was asked about UCLA in the West bracket, and this was his reply: "But you know, when I look at that West bracket, I see Duke. And when I see Duke, I think of Mike Krzyzewski. And when I think of Mike Krzyzewski, I think of Robert Montgomery Knight." Or another case, when Knight told Vitale to come up with a nickname for a player who had made a good pass during a game, Vitale replied, "The greatest nickname I have ever come up with was for Robert Montgomery Knight, whom I dubbed 'the General.'"

Sunday evening, during ESPN's SportsCenter, the basketball chat featured a remote of Vitale from his home (versus earlier in the week, when he had been in the studio sitting next to Knight). Perhaps Vitale had to return home for a doctor's appointment (he missed two months earlier in the basketball season because of vocal chord problems and was afterwards limited in the games he called). Perhaps he got on Knight's nerves so much Bob threatened to use a whip on Vitale.

Bob Knight definitely has a future in the studio as an analyst or courtside as a commentator. One thing is for certain, though: he and Dick Vitale cannot be on the same show together unless Knight is issued one of those "mute" buttons that Toni Reali uses on Around the Horn to shut Vitale up.

No comments: