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Published On: Mon, Feb 23rd, 2015

This Day in History: Bobby Knight loses cool, throws chair

The great coaching career of Bobby Knight was tainted on this day, Feb. 23 thirty years ago when he his temper tantrum resulted in throwing a chair.

Just weeks ahead of the NCAA tournament, Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers faced off against the Purdue Boilermakers and after only four minutes into the contest, Knight flew off the bench when a foul is called on Hoosiers guard Steve Alford.

Then there was another foul called just under a minute later and Knight protests again: yelling, pointing, fuming.

Bobby Knight throwing a chair Indiana vs Purdue 1985ESPN recounts that “Then, as Purdue inbounds the ball, another foul is called on Indiana, this time on Daryl Thomas. Knight goes absolutely ballistic, cussing and shrieking at the officials. He is finally hit with a technical by referee Fred Jaspers. Enraged over his team’s lackadaisical start and the officials’ calls, Knight loses it. He turns toward the Hoosiers’ bench, fuming, wanting to take out his rage on someone, something, anything. Instinctively, he picks up a folding chair from the Hoosiers’ bench, and just when you think he’s going to slam it into the floor, he hurls it across the court, to the utter shock and disbelief of everyone watching.”

“I was shocked,” Purdue’s Steve Reid would say later. “I’ve never seen anything like this happen before.”

Every eye in the arena, every eye watching on TV, stares in disbelief as the folding chair careens along the surface of the court.

People are horrified; there is astonishment, even fear, in the arena as Indiana Athletic Director Ralph Floyd rushes from his seat to the Hoosiers’ bench,” ESPN noted.

The Hoosiers would certainly make headlines now, losing 72-63, but more so for the legendary chair throwing incident. Full video below via YouTube.

While Indiana fans will forever cling to his successful coaching record, many Americans will forever remember his tirade and outrageous behavior.

During speeches, Knight sometimes recountsed a tale of spotting an old woman behind the basket who needed a chair, so he tossed one to her.

In 2002, Knight found another way to joke about it after tossing aside at a news conference a metal chair that broke.

“That’s the furthest I’ve thrown a chair in a long time,” he said.

Alford, while coaching at Iowa years later, said the chair throwing was symbolic of a season gone awry. Indiana went 16-13 that year and lost to UCLA in the NIT championship, far below the high expectations of fans.

“It was not one of our better years, whether it was throwing a chair or not playing well as a team or whatever,” Alford said. “It was a technical foul and we moved on.”

In 2013, while promoting a book, Knight, addressed that moment on “CBS This Morning” and said the now-infamous chair-throwing incident “has been grossly exaggerated over the years.”

He joined Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps for an Applebee’s commercial (check it out below) which added a comedic backdrop to the incident and perpetuated the incident in Knight’s legacy. (There were other ads as well, State Farm for example)

Say Bob Knight and an Indiana fan will note the 902 victories, ask anyone else and his legacy will include a footnote about his temper and antics, particularly if he has a chair nearby.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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