When he learned
of the seriousness of Turner's injury, Knight was stricken. In all his years of
coaching, he had never had a player hurt anywhere near so badly. And Turner,
because of the way he had come along last season, had become special to Knight.
After many stormy days, the relationship between coach and player seemed
destined for a happy ending. Knight delighted in retelling what Turner's
father, a devoutly religious man, had supposedly said to a rival recruiter who
had told him that Knight was an atheist: "I can take my boy to church to
teach him what he needs to know about religion, but when it comes to basketball
I'm going to take him to Bobby Knight at Indiana."
shortcoming through most of last season, as Knight saw it, was lack of
concentration. At times, he would be awesome; other times he played as if in a
fog. Knight seemed on the brink of giving up on him time and again, only to try
a different tack with the enigmatic big man. Finally, Turner blossomed.
"Here was a
kid who sort of floundered around," Knight says. "He was up and down
academically and up and down athletically. All of a sudden he seemed to find a
direction. He was attentive. He knew what was possible for him to achieve. He
was as close to being a totally effective human being as he has ever
In the wake of
the tragedy, Knight has personally taken charge of the effort to raise money to
defray Turner's medical expenses. He has played in Softball games, attended
cookouts, given his blessing to an exhibition by the Indiana Pacers and taken
his team out in the state for a couple of exhibitions. When the Pacers
presented a check for more than $93,000 to the Turner Trust Fund before the
Miami game, it brought the total raised to around $300,000.
has made a conscious effort, in his inimitable way, to show Turner that he's
still very much a part of the team. Or, as Knight put it, "I'm sure I'll
find something to get on his ass about, just to make him feel at home."
after hanging his letter jacket in the locker that's still reserved for him in
the Indiana dressing room, Turner was taken out to watch the pre-game warmups.
On the way he saw Mike LaFave, a teammate last season who is now being
Landon," said LaFave, smiling. "How you feel?"
great," said Turner. "I've never felt bad. I'm just not
Before he went
out to face the public, Turner asked a team manager to move his feet so that
they were exactly even on the footrests of his wheelchair, and he brushed his
hair. He wanted to look good for the people who would applaud him and take his
picture and ask for the autographs that he writes slowly, but firmly and
For a man who was
supposed to have trouble regaining the use of his arms and hands, Turner has
responded admirably to therapy. One reason, perhaps, is that he applies to
therapy the diligence and determination he learned playing basketball for
Knight. Turner is no stranger to hard work.