Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Knight Gets Win No. 880

Knight gets win No. 880, setting new Division I men's record
Apart of history audio slideshow

- publication data - Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 12:37 a.m.

Texas Tech held a New Year's Day party on Monday with Bob Knight serving as the guest of honor.

Knight surpassed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for most career victories as the Red Raiders held on for a 70-68 victory over New Mexico, giving Knight win No. 880.

Knight had been adamantly avoiding talk about the Division I men's basketball record for most of the season, but he couldn't help but get emotional during the postgame ceremony and news conference.

"I would like to thank Dr. (John) Whitmore, Gerald (Myers) and David Schmidly for giving me the opportunity to coach at Texas Tech, a school that I have come to really respect and appreciate," Knight said in front of a capacity crowd of 15,098 that remained at United Spirit Arena after the game. "This is a community that Karen (Knight's wife) and I really enjoy."

Knight called out to his wife to come down to the court from her seat in the stands. The last time he did that, two years ago, was after Tech advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The ceremony included a pair of trophies given to Knight, one from Tech, which was presented to him by athletic director Myers, and another from the Big 12 Conference, which was presented to Knight by Big 12 associate commissioner John Underwood.

Knight's ceremony was part reflective - on his 41-year career - part humorous, part congratulatory and part political.

When Tech chancellor Kent Hance offered his congratulations, Knight said, "I really appreciate the improvement that you are," referring to former chancellor David Smith, with whom Knight had a public altercation in February 2004.

Tech president Jon Whitmore was next to offer his congratulations. "As president, I really appreciate the academic work that you've done in graduating your players."

Knight followed by introducing leading scorer Jay Jackson, who Knight dismissed from the team a week before the season opener for academic reasons before reinstating him a week later.
"Dr. Whitmore, I'd like you to meet our prized student, Jay Jackson," Knight said.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale has been trumpeting for Indiana University to name the basketball court at Assembly Hall after Knight and continued that quest during Monday's broadcast.
Knight also took a political stab at the Basketball Hall of Fame for failing to enshrine Vitale to this point.

"The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., is not complete, in any way, shape or form until Dick Vitale is in there," Knight said.

An 81/2-minute video presentation was shown on the scoreboard with congratulations coming from Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Dean Smith, Texas head coach Rick Barnes - speaking on behalf of the Big 12 coaches - former Knight player and current Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski - speaking on behalf of all of Knight's former players and coaches - and Vitale.

"You made all of us better basketball players, but you also made us all better men," Krzyzewski said.

Barnes said he heard one of Knight's recent speeches in which Knight said Curt Gowdy will be known as the "best damn broadcaster there ever was."

"Your legacy will be that you made things better, you always get more out of people and you are the greatest basketball coach ever," Barnes said.

Red and black confetti was dropped from the arena ceiling on two occasions, and a banner was unfurled commemorating Knight's record victory.

Knight took the microphone several times during the ceremony, but he had to pause when the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way," was played in the background as he began his final address.
Knight's eyes watered as he walked back to the scorer's table and took in the moment.

When the team presented Knight with the game ball, junior guard Martin Zeno said, "We love you."

Knight's response: "For you guys to say you love me, after the things I've said to you and the things I've put you through, that's a hell of a compliment."

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