Few in the media have been bigger vocal supporters of former IU basketball coach Bob Knight than legendary television color commentator Dick Vitale.
Vitale and Knight are just a year apart in age, and the pair were central figures in the national college basketball landscape throughout the 80s and 90s.
While he had some notorious public moments with the media, Knight formed close bonds with some individuals in that space such as Vitale and local writer Bob Hammel.
In fact, Vitale had Knight present him during his basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2008. It isn’t a well known fact, but it was Knight who led a campaign to help get Vitale inducted as a contributor to the game after he was twice not voted in.
And Vitale was there in 2020 calling the game for ESPN when Knight returned to Assembly Hall for an IU basketball game.
Vitale affectionately referred to Knight as “The General” during broadcasts, and he has often said that IU should name their basketball facilities after the coaching great.
Recently, Vitale was in Indiana for a fundraiser and he was asked about Bob Knight’s legacy by Glen Marini of WANE TV:
“Well, you know, Bob Knight is special to me,” Vitale said on May 31 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“When I got into the Hall of Fame in 2008, he was my presenter.
“You know, some people can look and criticize some of his actions, and his toughness. But the bottom line is, he cared about his players, they graduated, he had them always ready to play.
“Indiana, in his prime days with his great teams, they were as good as it gets with discipline, and good shot selection. Bob Knight was a genius as a mentor in coaching the game.
“Do I agree with everything he’s done? No, he knows that. We’ve had debates about those things. In fact, you know what, I think he didn’t agree with some of them after they happened. He’s very emotional. He’s very passionate.
“And really, I say prayers for him every night. Bob always treated me like royalty.”
With Dickie V here in Indiana tonight for the Big Brothers Big Sisters gourmet dinner in FW, got a chance to ask him about Bob Knight's legacy. Here's his response. @BobKnightLegacy #IUBB @IndianaMBB pic.twitter.com/U6hnMcWCab
— Glenn Marini (@GlennMariniWANE) June 1, 2023
Knight moved back to Bloomington in 2019.
When Mike Woodson became the head coach at IU in 2021, Knight gradually started to become a regular around the program again.
He attended practice on a weekly basis during the 2022-23 season.
We asked several of the players about having Knight at their practices this season:
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”