Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight will make his first appearance at Indiana since his 2000 ouster on Saturday as the Hoosiers welcome Purdue to Assembly Hall, according to a report from Sports Illustrated.
Knight led Indiana to 11 Big Ten championships, five Final Fours and three national titles during his illustrious career, but his tumultuous exit left a sour taste in his mouth, leading him to ice out his long-time employer. He’s not stepped foot on the campus since he was head coach and has since vowed to never return, throwing dirt on former administrators that booted him from his post as head coach at every opportunity.
“On my dying day, I will think about how great the fans at Indiana were,” said Knight an interview with Dan Patrick in 2017. “And as far as the hierarchy at Indiana University at that time, I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for those people. With that in mind, I have no interest in ever going back to that university.”
Asked later about the administrators that helped orchestrate his dismissal, Knight responded: “I hope they’re all dead.”
Legendary Purdue coach Gene Keady, a Hall of Famer himself, is also expected in attendance. Keady won six Big Ten titles and his Boilermakers famously dueled Knight’s Hoosiers in the 1980s and 1990s. During one of those matchups, in fact, the infamous chair-throw was produced.
In a recent interview with NBA.com, Keady revealed that despite their longstanding rivalry, the two keep in constant contact.
“We just talk about stuff,” Keady told NBA.com. “Politics, things like that. He’s pretty intelligent, so he’s fun to talk to.”
As part of the reasoning — or perhaps the entire reasoning — for Knight’s return to IU: the program is paying tribute to his 1980 Big Ten title-winning team at halftime of the Purdue-Indiana game. Among the players expected in attendance are Isiah Thomas and Mike Woodson, as well as other Knight-coached players from his 29-year IU tenure.