Bobby Knight: Chair-throwing incident "grossly exaggerated"

(CBS News) Back on Feb. 23, 1985, then-Hoosiers Coach Bobby Knight stunned a packed hall when, enraged by his team's performance and officials' calls, he threw a chair during a pivotal game.

Knight, addressing that moment on "CBS This Morning" Monday, said the now-infamous chair-throwing incident "has been grossly exaggerated over the years."

Knight's team eventually lost the game to the Purdue Boilermakers, 63-72, but it's Knight's chair-throwing -- and his temper -- that's now the stuff of sports legend.

Asked about the behavior and whether he regrets it, Knight pointed to his Big 10 teams' repeated achievement of fewest technical fouls.

He said on "CTM," "My behavior as a coach and our team's behavior translated into each year the fewest number of technical fouls, so I look at that and say, 'Well, that's been a little bit overrated.'"

Knight, the author of a new book called "The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results," said he doesn't like the word "hope." He explained, "Because 'hope springs eternal' or whatever, but what comes from hope isn't nearly what comes from work and thought and trying to figure out how we can be better."

Speaking of how that translated to his coaching style, Knight said, "I think the thing that I did was always really point with emphasis mistakes that were made. We made a bad pass, we didn't block out or whatever. But, I always tried to say that, 'Hey, that was a great block out' or 'That's the kind of pass we have to have.' I wanted kids to understand both what they shouldn't be doing and also what they should be doing. I don't think that you can just be totally one and not pay attention to the other."

And then, remarking on a quote in his book that "eternally optimistic positive thinkers are incredibly annoying," Knight said, "Yeah, because they think everything's going to go the right way, and it's like you have a kid that comes from high school to college to play basketball, let's say. If he doesn't understand that this is going to be a lot more difficult and a lot tougher, then he's not going to get the full use of his ability. So he's got to be shown, 'Hey, you are at a different level now. This is not going to be the same for you as playing in high school was.'"

Knight also sounds off in the book about people saying that you can do whatever you want to do. Knight, referring to that remark, said, "Climb a tree and try to be a bird, fly out of the tree and see what happens."

For more with Knight on whether he misses coaching, his book, and the state of the Big Ten Conference, watch the video above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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