Thursday, May 09, 2019

The Last Days of Knight

Saturday while Sharon was in Southern California, I watched The Last Days of Knight. This is the twenty-fourth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here. I haven't kept up with the 30 for 30 series over the last couple of years; there are more than a dozen documentaries that I haven't seen.

The film starts by looking briefly at Bob Knight's career. After briefly coaching at Army from 1965 to 1971, Knight coached at Indiana University from 1971 to 2000. While at Indiana, Knight led his teams to three NCAA championships, one National Invitation Tournament (NIT) championship, and 11 Big Ten Conference championships. His 1975–76 team went undefeated during the regular season and won the 1976 NCAA tournament. By 2000, the film paints Knight was one of the most powerful people at the university and in some ways in the state of basketball crazy Indiana.

The documentary is told from an unusual angle. In April 1999, Robert Abbott, a producer for CNN/Sports Illustrated, began reporting a story investigating why three high school All-Americans had left Knight's program over the prior two years. The film is directed and narrated by Abbott. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the investigation and its ultimate ramifications.

I was pleasantly surprised by this 30 for 30. It is a story with which I was only passingly familiar. Although it was an hour and forty minutes long, it never dragged or seemed slow. The follow-up story on one of the players that left the program is heart wrenching. It is a documentary worth looking for. It motivates me to go back and watch more of the 30 for 30s that I have missed.

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