Golden Basketball Magazine
July 3, 2014

"It's much harder to keep a championship than to win one. After you've won once, some of the key figures are likely to grow dissatisfied with the role they play, so it's harder to keep the team focused on doing what it takes to win. Also, you've already done it, so you can't rely on the same drive that makes people climb mountains for the first time; winning isn't new anymore. Also, there's a temptation to believe that the last championship will somehow win the next one automatically." Bill Russell, Boston Celtics

Tiger Den Basketball

Profile: Bob Pettit - IV

Bob made the All-Star team every year he played in the NBA.

Read more ...

Basketball Snapshot

1957 NBA Finals - Game Seven

The already-great series ended with as pulsating a finale as has ever been seen.

Read more ...

From the Golden Archives

Basketball Week in Time

The top game of the January 1945 weekend involved a clash between two of the best big men in college bas­ketball.

Read more ...

Basketball Quiz

Match each coach with the school he led to the NCAA Men's Basket­ball Championship.

  1. Larry Brown
  2. Jim Harrick
  3. Lute Olsen
  4. Nolan Richardson
  5. Jerry Tarkanian
(A) Arizona
(B) Arkansas
(C) Kansas
(D) Nevada-Las Vegas

Basketball Short Story
A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers,
John Feinstein (1986)
Nothing in Knight's career had drawn more fire than his first experience repre­senting his country as coach of an international team. It was in Puerto Rico in 1979. While leading the U.S. team to the gold medal in the Pan American Games, Knight was arrested for assaulting a Puerto Rican police officer. Witnesses to the incident, which took place during a U.S. practice session, are unanimous in saying that the policeman was far more at fault than Knight, that the policeman was rude and officious and practically begged Knight to get into an altercation with him.

Even though Knight was put through the humiliation of being dragged from the practice floor in handcuffs, he probably would have been judged a victim in that incident had he simply allowed the witnesses to tell the story. But that isn't Knight's way. He is completely incapable of letting an incident ... simply die a natural death. Indiana University vice-president Edgar Williams, one of Knight's best friends, describes that side of him best: "Bob always - always - has to have the last word. And more often than not, it's tht last word that gets him in trouble."

Puerto Rico was the perfect demonstration of Williams's words. In speeches long after he had left San Juan behind, Knight was still taking shots. He talked about mooning Puerto Rico as he left it, made crude jokes about Puerto Rico, and, ulti­mately, turned public sentiment around: instead of being the victim of an officious cop, he made himself the Ugly American. Knight thought he was being funny; he couldn't understand that many found his brand of humor offensive. ...

Because of Puerto Rice, Knight thought he would never be named Olympic coach. ... When the selection committee met in May 1982 there were two major candi­dates: Knight and John Thompson, the Georgetown coach. It took three ballots, but the committee named Knight. It was testimony to his extraordinary ability as a coach that, in spite of Puerto Rico and the aftermath, he was given another chance. ...

Once he had the job, Knight was a man with a mission: to destroy the hated Russians, to make sure the world knew that the U.S. played basketball on one level and the rest of the world on another. ....

But at the last minute, fate and politics tossed a giant wrench into his plans: the Russians, getting even for Jimmy Carter's 1980 boycott in Moscow, decided to boycott Los Angeles. Even after the April announcement, Knight kept preparing for the Russians right up until the day in July when it was no longer possible for them to come. Ed Williams, watching his friend during this period, saw him as a general who had prepared the perfect battle plan, trained the troops, raised his sword to lead the charge, and then saw the enemy waving a white flag. ...

But Knight never let himself approach the Olympics that way. For one thing, he couldn't afford to; if, by some chance, he slipped and his team lost to Spain or Canada or West Germany, he would never live it down. He knew how much Henry Iba, the coach of the 1972 Olympic team, had suffered after the stupefying loss to the Russian in Munich. Knight thought Iba a great coach, and looked up to him. It hurt Knight to hear people say that Iba, who had coached the U.S. to easy gold medals in 1964 and 1968, was too old to coach that team and had, because of his conservative style, cost the U.S. the gold medal. Knight was angered by the loss in Munich because he thought the U.S. had been cheated. ...

And so, he drove everyone connected with the Olympic team as if they would be facing a combination of the Russians, the Bill Russell-era Boston Celtics, and Lew Alcindor's UCLA team. The Olympic Trials ... were brutal. Seventy-six players practiced and played three times a day in Indiana's dark, dingy field house ...

The players were pushed into a state of complete exhaustion; by week's end, Knight had what he wanted. Some wondered why players like Charles Barkley and Antoine Carr weren't selected while players like Jeff Turner and John Kon­cak were. The answer was simple: Knight wanted players who would take his orders without question. ...

It was still a team of breathtaking talent: Michael Jordan ...; Patrick Ewing ...; Wayman Tisdale ...; Sam Perkins ...; Alvin Robertson ...; and Steve Alford, Knight's own freshman point guard. ...

L: Karl Malone and Charles Barkley at '84 Olympics Trials - neither made the team.
R: Michael Jordan in action
Knight took his team and demanded more of it than any team he had ever coached ... He pushed the players, insulted them, yelled at them. Some of them had never been spoken to this way before. ... Some of them hated him for it and cursed the day they had ever shown up at the Olympic Trials. But that was how Knight wanted it. He wanted each of them to understand that this would happen to all of them only once in their lives, and that they had to give him absolutely everything they had. He wanted no close calls, nothing left to chance. ...

The preliminary round of the Olympics - five games - was a mere formality. In the quarterfinals against West Germany, they were sloppy but still won by eleven, their closest game. They annihilated Canada in the semifinals, leaving only Spain, a team they had beaten by 25 points in preliminary play, between them and the gold medal. ...

When Knight walked into the locker room for his final pep talk, he was ready to breathe fire. ... But when he flipped over the blackboard on which he would nor­mally write the names of the other teams' starters, he found a note scotch-taped to the board. It had been written by Jordan: "Coach," it said, "after all the shit we've been through, there is no way we lose tonight."

Knight looked at the twelve players and ditched his speech. "Let's go play," he said. Walking onto the floor, Knight folded Jordan's note into a pocket (he still has it in his office today) and told his coaches, "This game will be over in about ten minutes."

He was wrong. It took five. The final score was 101-68. Spain never had a chance. The general sent his troops out to annihilate and they did just that. When it was over, when he had finally reached that golden moment, Knight's first thought wasn't, I've done it, I've won the Olympic gold medal. It was, Where is Henry Iba? Knight had made certain the old coach was with the team every step of the way ... Now, when the players came to him to carry him off the floor on their shoulders, Knight had one more order left for them: "Coach Iba first." And so, following their orders to the end, the players carried Henry Iba around the floor first. Then they gave Knight a ride. Then, and only then, did he smile.

1984 U.S.A. Olympic Team