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Bob Knight: Indiana Hoosiers former coach returns to Assembly Hall

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Here he came, at last. Years late, after so much spite had flowed under so many burned bridges, but better now than never. Finally, with mortality creeping in, it was time to stop fighting and stop resenting and stop boycotting.

It was time to make peace and come home.

Bob Knight Indiana Return

Stooped and shuffling, 79-year-old Bob Knight made a halting entrance to the Indiana University arena he transformed into a basketball cathedral. It had been 20 years since he last set foot in Assembly Hall, 20 years since he was stunningly fired for one too many bullying acts in a brilliant career besmirched by them. He had rejected innumerable gestures from IU administrators and coaches and his former players, preferring to stay in his bunker of bitterness.

It’s a damn shame it took this long, but at least it finally happened. A thawing. Hopefully even a healing.

“This is one of the greatest and most emotional things ever for me,” said Randy Wittman, who played here for Knight from 1978-83 and was instrumental in making the reunion happen. “I don’t know if we’ll see something like this again in college basketball. This is where he belongs. … I’ll go to my grave with my memory of this today.”

There is something about seeing a towering figure in an enfeebled state that can reach inside a person and pry open unexpected feelings. Muhammad Ali, the most cocksure of all athletes, trembling while lighting the Olympic flame in 1996. Now here came Knight, a big man who always carried himself in an intimidating manner, in need of assistance.

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