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Friday, May 20, 2022

Departing Texas Tech coach Knight contrasts sharply with Donovan

Bob Knight retiring has made me realize how grateful I am for UF coach Billy Donovan.

Now, I have never encountered Bob Knight. I was seven months old when he won his third national championship at Indiana, and I doubt I was even a thought in my parents' heads when he won his first two.

I have never been to the states where he coached, and I have never talked to reporters who dealt with him on a daily basis.

But I have seen footage of Knight when he speaks to reporters, and I honestly have no idea what I would do if I were on the receiving end of one of his well-publicized rants.

His contempt for the media is no secret. He drops multiple F-bombs to reporters who ask "stupid" questions.

I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about sports, but that's part of being a professional and an adult - asking a question when you don't know something. Knight appears to belittle reporters who he feels don't know the game the way they should.

He once called the profession "one or two steps above prostitution."

It's a great sound bite, but like it or not, it is our job, and it's a job most of us do for you, the reader.

Now, am I fair to judge Knight solely on this behavior? Probably not. Like I said, I have never met the man, and I can't very well form an accurate opinion of someone I have never spoken to.

But that brings me to the man I have met - Donovan.

In my short time as a reporter, I have found Donovan to be one of the coolest coaches to work with.

He tries to make interviews more like conversations. He cracks jokes. He doesn't lose it in the press room after the Gators drop a game.

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Granted, he's not always happy to answer the questions reporters throw at him, and he can get a little tense, as anyone would, but he still addresses the questions with respect.

Even when he had to face dozens of reporters and the national media during the summer for the Orlando Magic fiasco, he didn't back away from the questions. I'm sure admitting his change of heart had to have been one of the hardest things to do, and yet he handled it with poise.

His behavior is the same out of the professional setting.

I saw him at Beef O' Brady's about a month ago, and he waved to me first. Then, he didn't mind taking two minutes to chitchat with me. I wonder if Knight would have afforded me the same attention.

As renowned coaches like Knight retire, their legacy lives on by those who remember them. Sadly, mine will only be of the footage that showed Knight throwing a chair and demeaning others.

When Donovan is ready to walk away from the game, I will remember him as a man of class.

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