According to ESPN, in an interview with Joe Buck that will air tonight at 8:00 pm eastern time on the Audience Network, former Indiana basketball head coach Bobby Knight criticizes John Wooden for the actions of booster Sam Gilbert when he violated NCAA policies while trying to convince recruits to come to UCLA.
The article quotes Knight as saying, “I don't mind saying it, I don't respect Wooden, because he allowed Sam Gilbert to do whatever it took to recruit kids. And one time he told me, he said, 'I just didn't know how to deal with Sam Gilbert.' And I'm saying to myself, 'I damn sure could have dealt with him.'"
I guess throwing a chair across a basketball court is more becoming of a coach.
Indiana basketball is not a squeaky clean program, by any means. Knight had a history of angry, and even violent behavior, and had major problems producing quality players that could stay out of trouble in the mid-to-late 90’s before he was eventually fired by Indiana in 2000. There were no NCAA violations during Knight’s career, but his tumultuous behavior was certainly damaging to the program and a poor example of what it means to be a basketball coach.
What matters more is that Steve Alford, the current head coach of the UCLA basketball team, considers this individual his mentor. According to an ESPN article from 2003, Alford, “seeks out Knight's advice on coaching philosophies, how to discipline his players and the overall way to run a program.” Additionally, Alford stated, "He's the best coach there is...If I had to lose, I would only want to lose to him.''
In a 2013 interview with UCLA Magazine that was designed to help the fans get familiar with UCLA’s new head coach, Alford goes so far as to say that there are actually similarities between Coach Wooden and Bob Knight.
There are not.
Coach was a man with integrity. He had his Two Sets of Threes, his father’s Seven Point Creed, and created the Pyramid of Success. He had wins and championships abound, of course, but it is his respect for others, his quiet personality, and his presence that people continue to revere. He is a man of principle, the same man that refused to allow Bill Walton to take the court until he got himself a haircut, because long hair was unbecoming of a college basketball player. This man is a role model for athletes, coaches, teachers, parents, and anyone who is a leader of any kind.
Coach Wooden could take a group of people under his wing and make them his family. He made every player feel valued, whether you were on the bench or starting. This is the type of coach we need a UCLA. Not one who considers a chair throwing, profanity slinging hothead someone to emulate.