When Bob Knight returned to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for a game in 2020, Mike Woodson was asked if the IU basketball coaching legend would make any return trips to the place he spent 30 years as head coach.
“Hope so,” was Woodson’s response at the time.
Little did Woodson, Knight, or anyone else know how much would change over the last 20 months.
Now Knight is coming back to watch his former player sit in his old seat as the head coach of the program.
On Thursday Knight attended practice and Woodson posted the above photo on his Twitter page with the following statement.
“Just like old times, Coach! It was an honor having you at practice today Bobby Knight!”
Woodson has always held Knight in the highest regard since playing for him at IU from 1976 to 1980.
In his opening remarks upon being introduced as the new Indiana head coach, Knight was the first person Woodson acknowledged.
“Coach Bob Knight who means so much to Indiana Basketball, and he took a chance on a kid out of Indianapolis many years ago to come here and play basketball,” Woodson said.
“And it was a journey for Mike Woodson. And coming to Indiana University to play basketball, he taught me how to play the game of basketball from a fundamental standpoint. He taught me how to be a man on and off the floor. And that was huge for me coming out of the inner cities of Indianapolis.
“So I pay tribute to Coach Knight in the utmost way because Indiana Basketball will always be Bob Knight.”
An Indianapolis native, Woodson first made an impression on Knight when he attended his camp before his senior year at Broad Ripple High School.
“I ended up winning a three-on-three contest that at Coach Knight’s camp with two other kids and Coach gave me a tee shirt and told me he would follow me my senior year in high school and that’s all I needed to hear,” Woodson said. “And I had a great senior year and he came knocking and I made a decision to come here and play basketball. It all started in Indianapolis growing up.”
Woodson returned from midseason back surgery with just six games remaining in 1980 and IU floundering in the middle of the conference pack with an 8-5 league record.
Woodson went on to average 20.5 points/game during the team’s final six regular season games, culminating in a 21-point effort in IU’s 76-73 overtime win over Big Ten co-leader Ohio State in the finale to secure the conference title.
Knight and Woodson have maintained a close relationship since. Woodson often visited Knight in Texas and Montana before his former coach moved back to Bloomington in 2019.
Thursday was not the first time Knight has been around the program since Woodson took over. He attended a player reunion in French Lick, Ind. over the summer and spoke to those in attendance.
Knight made his first public return to an IU Athletics event in April, 2019 when he attended a baseball game. Just a couple months later it was reported he was buying a home in Bloomington. Knight made his return to an IU basketball game in February, 2020.
Knight turned 81 on Monday.
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