If you have been a member of the sportswriters' fraternity since before Dick Vitale turned college basketball into a prime time event, you have some Bob Knight stories to tell.
I have two.
In 1976, when Knight was recruiting East Leyden's Glen Grunwald, the Sun-Times player of the year, he called me. It was the only time we ever talked on the telephone.
"I understand you are looking for a speaker for your banquet," Knight said.
"Yes, I am," I said.
"I'd be glad to do it," he said.
I was flabbergasted. Here was the coach of the nation's No. 1 team, on its way to the NCAA championship, a team that included former Sun-Times player of the year Quinn Buckner, a local hero, and one of the most sought-after speakers in the country was volunteering to speak at our All-Area banquet.
Of course, there was an ulterior motive. In all of his career, Knight never did anything without calculating the odds, making sure they were in his favor.
He was recruiting Grunwald and he knew that our banquet speaker always had a seat at the front table with the player of the year and his parents, a position no other college coach in the room could get.
To no one's surprise, Knight signed Grunwald who, despite an untimely and unfortunate injury that virtually crippled his playing career in college, went on to be co-captain of Indiana's 1981 NCAA championship team.
My other experience with Knight showed the other side of the man, the side that the public is all too familiar with. If you are loyal to him, always loyal to him without flinching, you are his friend for life. But if you dare to question his motives or convictions or values, just once, you'll be banished from his inner sanctum forever. Ask Ron Felling, his former assistant.
Two years later, I received a call from Billy Cunningham, a former Thornridge star who was playing at Indiana. Ironically, he was an All-Area selection who also was honored at the 1976 banquet.
Cunningham was unhappy and wanted me to know that he was going to drop out of school and transfer to Nevada-Las Vegas. He claimed Knight was unfair, cited some examples, and suggested that Knight was trying to run some players out of his program to make room for others.
I called Knight's office and talked to assistant coach Jim Crews, whom I had met when he was a high school star at Normal University High. I explained what Cunningham had said and asked if Knight would respond to the allegations. Crews said he would consult Knight.
Cunningham left Indiana, I wrote the story, quoting Cunningham and noting that Knight declined to comment, and I never heard from Knight again. Apparently, I had crossed the line.