Not every quote attributed to Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, who died this week at 83 years old, was regarded as gospel — even inside the state walls of Indiana. Knight had his fair share of controversies and famously ran hot. But nearly every quote we attribute to Knight is in some way memorable. He had a way with words and could evoke emotions from the most stoic, even if it wasn’t always elegantly put.
Knight always was a straight shooter who came without a filter. In the wake of his passing, and to truly remember his legacy, what better way to do so than by tracking down some of his most memorable quotes?
Snark and sass be damned, you could fill a book full of quotes from Knight that got straight to the point, many of which could only come from Knight. So here are 10 of his most memorable ones, both good and bad, by which he will be remembered:
1. “When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want [them] to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.” — Knight at IU’s Senior Day in 1994.
2. “Coaching is a great thing, because you’re working for four months then you go fish for eight.” — Knight on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1987 after winning the NCAA championship.
3. “I really don’t like it. It’s like if you hit a homerun 450 feet, you ought to get two runs for it, or you throw a 40-yard touchdown pass and you get nine points. I don’t really like anything that you come up, you stop, you shoot it. I don’t think it fits into what my concept of the game is.” — Knight on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1987 referencing the 3-point shot.
4. “Defense is the key to winning in any sport, and that’s what I believe in.” — Knight in 1971 at IU’s introductory press conference after leaving Army.
5. “How many times I got to tell you? Don’t fight the rabbits. Because, boys, if you fight the rabbits, the elephants are going to kill you.” — Knight to his team during the 1980-1981 season, as quoted in a profile published at Sports Illustrated.
6. “I said, ‘Son, my name is not Knight to you. It’s Coach Knight or it’s Mr. Knight. I don’t call people by their last name, and neither should you.'” — Knight to Kent Harvey in 2000 while grabbing his arm, which eventually led to his ouster at IU.
7. “I hope they’re all dead.” — Knight, regarding his former bosses at Indiana, on “The Dan Patrick Show” in 2017.
8. “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” — Knight, using an offensive analogy, during a 1988 interview with NBC on dealing with stress.
9. “Play defense!” — Knight when he returned to Assembly Hall in 2020 after being away for two decades.
10. “If the NBA was on channel 5 and a bunch of frogs making love were on channel 4, I’d watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy.” — Knight in 2006 on his thoughts about the NBA and why he preferred coaching college.