Feinstein received Coach Knight's permission to have almost total access to the Indiana University basketball program during the 1985-86 season. By then, Feinstein had earned and deserved his reputation as a first-rate journalist. Presumably that was one of the major reasons why Knight was agreeable. Later, Knight was very displeased with the book based on that season. (I am reminded of what Harry S Truman once said when someone urged him to "give 'em hell" during the 1948 Presidential campaign. "I just tell them the truth and they think it's hell.") Two points seem especially important to me as a controversy about A Season on the Brink continues: This is Feinstein's account of what he observed and experienced; also. Knight and everyone else involved (including Feinstein) are entitled to their own opinion as to how accurate (if not "fair") that account is. My own opinion is that prior to and then following the 1985-86 season, Knight's behavior (including public statements) suggests that Feinstein's account is mostly credible. Since his playing days at Ohio State and then coaching at the United States Military Academy, Knight left no doubt that he was an intense competitor who loved the game with passion and studied it with intensity. He arrived at Indiana University a known quantity and was remarkably consistent (for better or worse) throughout the years he coached there.
For every person who views Knight's values with contempt, there is probably someone else who admires those same values. He is obviously a complicated person. Also, as he himself has frequently conceded, he can be contradictory. (Years before the 1985-86 season, Knight observed "I don't agree with everything I do.") Many of the players whom he verbally abused the most were later treated with exceptional kindness and generosity. Feinstein's book suggests various forces which inform and direct Knight's behavior (commendable or otherwise) and I rate this book so highly because Feinstein enables his reader to accompany him during an extended association with Knight and the Indiana basketball program. Whatever your own opinion of Knight, Feinstein's book examines in depth a great basketball coach and demonstrably imperfect human being during a pivotal season more than 15 years ago.
My own opinion is that Knight, then and now, is not so contemptible as many insist nor as admirable as many others insist. Final point: Knight has always overseen a "clean" program and has coached, year after year, young men most of whom have earned earned a college degree. Presumably Feinstein respects that and so should we. Those who wish to know what Knight thinks about all this are urged to read his own book, Knight: My Story, which has just been published.
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Robert Morris (Robert1936)
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Why isA Season on the Brinkthe bestselling sports book of all time? The answer is easy: Bobby Knight. Audaciously brilliant, exasperatingly volatile, andneverboring, the Indiana University basketball coach is Greek drama and comedy neatly wrapped in a red sweater. Like all high-strung people, Knight is particularly interesting when things don't go according to his playbook. John Feinstein had the good fortune to follow Knight and his Hoosiers through a difficult 1985-86 campaign; that Feinstein could watch that season attached to Knight's hip givesA Season on the Brinkits sights and its sounds. That such closeness allowed entry into Knight's heart gives the book its fury. The combination is irresistible.