Nearly two decades removed from his days at Indiana, Bob Knight was surprised by the warm greeting he got at rival Purdue.
With Knight having had his 77th birthday last week, the enthusiastic crowd at the Elliott Hall of Music sang happy birthday to the fomer Hoosiers coach.
“Believe me, from the bottom of my heart, nobody from (Purdue) has ever even clapped for me,” said Knight, who led Indiana to NCAA championships in 1976, 1980 and 1987.
Knight was at Purdue on Sunday to talk basketball with former Boilermakers coach Gene Keady in celebration of Mackey Arena’s upcoming 50th anniversary.
Knight’s career record of 902-371 in stops at Army (1965-71), Indiana (1971-2000) and Texas Tech (2001-08)( represents the second most Division I victories behind Duke’s Mike Krzyewski, who was coached by Knight at Army.
Keady, 81, was 512-270 in 25 seasons at Purdue, recording a 21-20 record against Knight. Keady won Big Ten coach of the year seven times, two more than Knight. However, Knight is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in conference victories with 353. Keady is second with 265. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is currently third with 256.
Knight and Keady said it would be difficult to come back into college coaching today because of the demands, with Keady adding he likes what he is doing now – nothing.
The two became friends in the late 1970s through then-Arkansas coach Eddie Sutton, for whom Keady was an assistant.
“There are a lot of men in my life who influenced my life, and Bob is one of them,” Keady said.
Knight admired Keady throughout their 41 Indiana-Purdue showdowns.
“In all my time coaching, nobody ever worked harder at playing or worked harder at winning than Gene Keady,” Knight said.
On Nov. 10, Purdue will mark the half-century of Mackey Arena, where the Boilermakers are 606-138 (.815) with 9,831,680 fans having passed through the gate! s.
One of the highlights of the Knight-Keady rivalry was Knight’s infamous chair toss across the court during a Purdue victory during the 1980s in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall.
“A lady asked if she could have my chair,” Knight joked. “What was I supposed to do? I didn’t have time to walk over there.”
Keady, who lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track at Kansas State, said he learned a bit from each about coaching.
“From baseball, I learned about failure, from football I learned to be tough, from basketball, I also learned about toughness and track taught me about conditioning,” Keady said.
Knight said he learned that the success in recruiting centers on winning the player’s mother.
“I felt that Mom knew a lot more about junior than Dad did,” Knight said. “Mom’s heart and brain were always better than Dad’s.”
Both dislike the NBA’s one-and-done rule and each – surprisingly – said they enjoyed their relationships with college officials.
“Most of them are good,” Knight said. “It’s a tough job.”