His Indiana basketball team was No. 1 in the nation last season, so you would think Bob Knight could relax and enjoy life, especially during preseason games. And after so many tantrums, after so many ugly incidents, you would think he would know better. But there he was Saturday night in Assembly Hall in Bloomington, getting ejected for committing his third technical and pulling his team off the court with 16,975 people in the stands and 15:05 left in a game the Hoosiers were losing 66-43 to the Soviet national team.
Knight's actions were so deplorable that even he was later contrite. While taping his weekly TV show two hours after the game, Knight said, "I apologize to our fans for what should have been a good evening.... As far as taking the team off the floor—there are things I wish I could do over again. That is one of them."
Earlier this month Knight had criticized America's willingness to allow the Soviets to come here and play exhibitions against U.S. teams, saying, "We're going to play them in the Olympics in Seoul, and we don't need to be letting them train over here." Still, Knight acknowledged that he wanted his Hoosiers to face the Soviets because they were the best foreign team available.
Indiana was clearly outclassed in the game, although it did draw to within five points early in the second half. But then came the explosion. Knight got a technical from Big Ten referee Jim Burr, an old adversary, for leaving the coach's box and another T for arguing about the first one. Soviet guard Sharunas Marchulenis sank all four free throws resulting from Knight's misbehavior. When Knight yelled at Burr again shortly thereafter, he got hit with his third technical. Knight told Burr that if he had to go, so would his team. When Burr asked if that decision was final, and Knight said yes, Burr declared the game a forfeit.
In the chaos that ensued, Dick Mittman, a reporter for The Indianapolis News, rushed onto the floor and went up to Marchulenis.
"Do you speak English?" Mittman inquired.
"Not very good," replied the Soviet guard.
When Mittman asked him what had just happened, though, Marchulenis spread his arms wide, grinned and said, "Crazy coach."
POINT OF NO RETURN
At the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden last week (page 92), signs warned spectators about to enter the arena: PLEASE WAIT HERE UNTIL THE NEXT SERVICE BREAK. For those of you who might still be cooling your heels, the signs meant for you to wait until the next changeover.