"I have a hard time blaming the players, but I can't respect them either," says Reed. "I've been in that situation before. We've had other guys transfer, so I know what's usually said about people who leave. Knight makes it clear what he wants you to say about them, and the guys are like, Oh, wow. Coach is talking to me like a normal person. I better do what he says. Believe me, his players don't say anything that are thoughts of their own."
When asked to be specific on his charge that Knight had physically assaulted him, Reed produced a clip from the Bloomington Herald-Times that featured a photograph of Knight with his hands wrapped around Reed's head. In the picture Knight is face-to-face with Reed as he apparently scolds him during a 22-point victory over Ohio State in January 1996. Reed says he won't cite other instances of physical contact "because I don't want them to take me to court," but an SI staffer who was sitting immediately behind the Indiana bench during the Hoosiers' home game against Ohio State this past February saw Knight berate Reed with such fervor that it shocked even a veteran tantrum watcher. At one point in the 93-76 Indiana victory, Knight pulled Reed from the game, and as Reed headed for the bench, Knight yelled, "You'll never f—ing understand how to play the game." With his face no more than a millimeter from Reed's, Knight let loose a few more choice expletives before concluding, "and that's why you'll never be a player. Never."
During the next timeout Knight delivered a less personal but even more profane tirade to Miller, at one point stringing together about a dozen "f—-," with no others words mixed in.
It has been said that General Patton, one of Knight's heroes, spent all his time trying to be General Patton, working to live up to the grand and imposing image that he had created for himself. Knight at times seems to be making a similar effort. His behavior, while surely unacceptable for any other coach at any school in any sport, is almost expected of him now. Why disappoint those folks who come to hear the swearing, to feel the nervous tension that fills the arena as soon as he walks in? To Knight, there can be no reason to temper the act because his supporters can tolerate anything and his critics can affect nothing. He even cashes in on the image: His commercial endorsement deal with Nutra-Sweet last season played off his image as a bully. Much about the man may split Indiana fans down the middle, but no one has ever doubted his stubbornness or his absolute power. Says Reed, "It's obvious that Coach Knight answers to no one."
As for Reed, he intends to transfer to another Division I school, perhaps Southern Mississippi, where his father, Terry, is an assistant coach. He may not win an NCAA title at his next stop, but in three years with Knight, he didn't win a postseason tournament game. He says basketball at Indiana now is all about deflecting blame and protecting Bob Knight. And the real goal, if you play for the Hoosiers, is simply to make it through the season with your body and spirit intact. "When you play for Coach Knight, you're not concerned with getting better," says Reed. "You only worry about surviving."