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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Imagine If He Had Criticized Knight's Demeanor...

The best thing about Bobby Knight is that he can take the most ordinary event and blow it completely out of proportion. Think about some of the ridiculous remarks he's made at press conferences, comments that were responses to ordinary questions. Fortunately for the media, there seems to be an endless supply of outbursts. Yesterday, the Bobby Knight incident machine turned out another good one.

The famously volatile Texas Tech coach somehow managed to take extreme offense at a compliment, and this time Knight's temper landed him in a confrontation with the university chancellor.

According to an eyewitness report by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, here's how the events unfolded:

Chancellor David Smith, who was eating lunch at a restaurant called Market Street, spotted Athletic Director Gerald Myers and complimented Myers on the coach's demeanor, telling Myers that he appreciated the work Myers has done with Knight. Myers told him that Knight happened to be at Market Street as well, and hey, why not go tell Knight in person?

So Smith goes over to Knight at the salad bar to express his appreciation to the coach. Knight sees the compliment as an allusion to his bad behavior in the past, and flies off the handle at the chancellor. He accused Smith of being a liar and insisted that there had been nothing wrong with his demeanor so far this year.

Note to Coach Knight: Throwing down with the chancellor by the salad bar is probably not a good way to exemplify your calm demeanor.

Maybe the thing with Knight is that he hates it when other people are right. If the chancellor thinks Knight's been doing a good job keeping his temper in check, well, dammit, that'll show him.

This whole incident reminded me, in a weird way, of what I think is the greatest comeback in history. The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, whose health had been failing him in his later years of life, one day was told by his nurse that she thought he looked better than usual.

"On the contrary," replied Ibsen. He then died.

Snap! Talk about getting the last word in...

***

Quick, who's the most thugged-out Olympian you can think of? Well, Allen Iverson's going to play for Team USA in the 2004 Athens Games, and he's a good candidate, what with his 'rows, his tattoos, and his sick rhymes (sort of). However, he's got some competition in Eleanor Holm Whalen, who won a pair of gold medals in the 1932 Olympics.

Whalen, who also won 21 U.S. swimming titles, was kicked off the 1936 Olympic team for - get this - drinking champagne and shooting dice. Holla! The playa-hatin' USOC booted her off the team that was competing in the Berlin Games because she was poppin' a little bubbly and playing craps on the ocean liner on the way to the Olympics.

Unfortunately for Whalen, she never competed in another Olympiad. Hopefully, she instead spent her days drinkin' Cris straight out the bottle in the back of the VIP and ridin' a chromed-out Escalade with 22s that don't stop.

This little tidbit came to my attention because, sadly, Whelan died yesterday at the age of 91. No doubt she kept it real to the end, and Iverson and the rest of the thugs in Greece this summer better recognize and pour a little malt liquor on the pavement for the O.O.G. - that's the original Olympic gangsta.

***

Did anyone catch the highlight of last night's Saint Joe's-Villanova game? It took place during halftime. No, Janet Jackson didn't have another "costume malfunction," as Justin Timberlake described her now-infamous flashing. A Villanova student from the crowd came onto the court and drained a half-court shot. I mean, he nailed it - it got all net.

Then, as the crowd goes nuts, the kid, cool as Bristol in January, calmly jogs toward the other hoop, arms raised in triumph, and then makes the universal "I can't hear you" motion to the crowd. He then walked over to the Saint Joe's cheerleaders and grabbed a pom-pom, T.O. style. A very pissed-off male cheerleader then angrily snatched it right back. Funny stuff. I hope the kid won something awesome for making that shot. Actually, what he really should have won was a spot in the 'Nova lineup - they shot a mediocre 7-20 from three-point range last night and lost to the Hawks, 74-67.

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