His Indiana basketball team was No. 1 in the nation last season, so you would think Bob Knight could relax and enjoy life, especially during preseason games. And after so many tantrums, after so many ugly incidents, you would think he would know better. But there he was Saturday night in Assembly Hall in Bloomington, getting ejected for committing his third technical and pulling his team off the court with 16,975 people in the stands and 15:05 left in a game the Hoosiers were losing 66-43 to the Soviet national team.
Knight's actions were so deplorable that even he was later contrite. While taping his weekly TV show two hours after the game, Knight said, "I apologize to our fans for what should have been a good evening.... As far as taking the team off the floor—there are things I wish I could do over again. That is one of them."
Earlier this month Knight had criticized America's willingness to allow the Soviets to come here and play exhibitions against U.S. teams, saying, "We're going to play them in the Olympics in Seoul, and we don't need to be letting them train over here." Still, Knight acknowledged that he wanted his Hoosiers to face the Soviets because they were the best foreign team available.
November 30, 1987
Indiana was clearly outclassed in the game, although it did draw to within five points early in the second half. But then came the explosion. Knight got a technical from Big Ten referee Jim Burr, an old adversary, for leaving the coach's box and another T for arguing about the first one. Soviet guard Sharunas Marchulenis sank all four free throws resulting from Knight's misbehavior. When Knight yelled at Burr again shortly thereafter, he got hit with his third technical. Knight told Burr that if he had to go, so would his team. When Burr asked if that decision was final, and Knight said yes, Burr declared the game a forfeit.
In the chaos that ensued, Dick Mittman, a reporter for The Indianapolis News, rushed onto the floor and went up to Marchulenis.
"Do you speak English?" Mittman inquired.
"Not very good," replied the Soviet guard.
When Mittman asked him what had just happened, though, Marchulenis spread his arms wide, grinned and said, "Crazy coach."
POINT OF NO RETURN
At the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden last week (page 92), signs warned spectators about to enter the arena: PLEASE WAIT HERE UNTIL THE NEXT SERVICE BREAK. For those of you who might still be cooling your heels, the signs meant for you to wait until the next changeover.
In a year of streaks—the hitting one of Paul Molitor (39 games), the winning one of the Salt Lake City Trappers baseball team (29) and the losing one of the Columbia football team (41)—the University of Dallas stands alone. The Crusaders have lost a college-record 69 basketball games in a row. The previous mark of 49 was set by Rutgers-Newark in 1985.
Dallas, an NAIA school, has lost to three different Marys (St. Mary of the Plains, St. Mary's University and Mary Hardin-Baylor), to three different Oklahoma compass points (Northeastern, Southeastern and Southwestern), to the high (Incarnate Word) and to the low (Grand Canyon). Since resuming their basketball program in 1985 after a 15-year hiatus, the Crusaders have a 2-71 record. Both of their wins have come at the expense of the Thunder Ducks of Richland College, a community college in Dallas.
Through last weekend the Crusaders were 0-9 for this season, but they did lose an 82-81 heartbreaker to John Brown University. "We'll do it this year," says Barry Davis, the Crusaders' coach since 1985. Because Dallas, a Catholic institution with an enrollment of 978, has high academic standards and gives no athletic scholarships, Davis doesn't have a lot of talent at his disposal. The Crusaders' average height is 6'1", and that's counting 6'6" forward Andy Baker.
"We still get a lot of people at our games," says Davis. "They come in a little slower these days, but then it's no big deal to watch our warmups. We only have two guys who dunk."
LONG TIME, NO SEE
On November 11, John Ziegler saw the Penguins play in Pittsburgh for the first time since he became NHL president in August, 1977.
THE FISCHER PAPERS
The hold that Bobby Fischer, reportedly a recluse in the Los Angeles area (SI, July 29, 1985), still has over the chess world was readily apparent last week at an auction of books and ephemera once belonging to him. SI special contributor Robert H. Boyle attended the auction at Manhattan's Swan Galleries and filed this report:
The books were consigned to Swann by the Brooklyn Public Library, which acquired them in 1967 from a bookshop that had bought the books from Fischer, who was indigent at the time. The first lot offered was a 1956 lab notebook containing notes, homework assignments and drawings by Fischer for his ninth-grade science class. Fischer, then 13, had already gained national prominence as a chess prodigy, but he didn't have much luck in science. He got a 65 on one true-false test, and his teacher had commented "Not satisfactory" on it, to which Fischer had written "Tough." The composition book also contained a page of grotesque heads drawn by Fischer, and this passage unrelated to either science or chess: "I just can't take it anymore. Baby listen to what I'm puttin' down. Hey everybody, gather round, cmon [sic] and let's dig these Rockin' Sounds, we got the rugs on the floor.... Come on now I wanna swim with you."
The notebook sold for $660. It was a bargain, not only for the insights it offered into Fischer's adolescent mind but also considering what the other lots brought. The next offering, a typescript of Fischer's 1968 book My 60 Memorable Games with numerous handwritten revisions, was expected to bring $400, and it fetched $6,060. Another lot of 200 various books estimated at $75 went for $1,100.
All told, the 10 lots, estimated at $3,335, realized $13,035. Said Fred Wilson, a Manhattan dealer in chess books who was at the auction, "The interest in Fischer is tremendous. He's still some kind of national hero."
According to the Cleveland Cavaliers' press guide, the person whom center Brad Daugherty would have most liked to meet is "Wyatt Urp."
AN MVP (BOO) AND LIGHTS (SIGH) FOR THE CUBS
Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs had the career year of what has been a distinguished 12-year career: .287 batting average, 49 homers, 137 RBIs. He's a fine leader and a great guy. But Dawson wasn't the most valuable player in the National League, even if he did finish first in the MVP voting announced last week by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Dawson is the first MVP ever from a last-place team. If Ronald Reagan were to ask the most partisan Cub fan, "Are you better off now than you were before you had Dawson?" the fan would have to say no. The award should be for more than just posting gaudy statistics in the big-three batting categories. Ozzie Smith, who finished second in the voting, was the heart of the St. Louis Cardinals with his defense, speed and relentless attention to detail, and he even outdid Dawson in runs produced (runs scored plus RBIs minus homers), 179-178. Tim Wallach of the Montreal Expos was fourth in the balloting, but he was more deserving than Dawson because he was the reason the Expos, who were expected to finish somewhere in Vermont, remained in the Eastern Division race until the final days.
Dawson's home run total and the national exposure he got on WGN, the TV superstation that carries the Cubs' games, were deciding factors; the emphasis on homers seems especially unfair in light of the major league homer boom in '87 and the diminutive-ness of Wrigley Field, where Dawson hit 27 of his home runs.
Not to belittle Dawson's achievements, but his selection has tarnished the meaning of Most Valuable Player and set a bad precedent for future voting.
Dawson's selection wasn't the only baseball news in Chicago last week. Jim Frey, who became the Cubs' general manager earlier this month, named Don Zimmer, his friend since the two were schoolboys in Cincinnati, as the new manager. Said Frey, "The childhood thing makes a nice, romantic story, but it doesn't have a heck of a lot to do with hiring a manager. You must have trust and respect. Those qualities are far more important than the fact we tried to skip classes together in high school."
Also, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington has approved a plan to allow 18 night games to be played at Wrigley next season. If, as expected, the city council adopts the plan, the Cubs will finally be playing home games under the lights. Ironically, Dawson signed a relatively low-paying contract with the Cubs last spring largely because they play on grass in the daytime; last year he batted .318 in day games and .231 at night. "Let's just hope those 18 games are all rainouts," says Dawson.
In an ideal world there would be nothing but day games at Wrigley Field. But night baseball at Wrigley is preferable to no baseball at Wrigley, and that's the alternative the Cubs were giving the city.
THEY SAID IT
•Winston Bennett, Kentucky basketball forward, pronouncing himself fit to return to action after a knee operation: "I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."