Most people who know me know I coached basketball for nearly 20 years. They probably also know that Bob Knight was among my 2 or 3 favorite coaches. I was privileged to work at his basketball camps and even had the opportunity to have him teach at my camp in Hong Kong.
While I learned a lot about help-side defense, motion offense and other basketball details, some of what he taught about life skills, etc. also sunk in.
Today, looking through a few notes, seeing some of the basketball stuff from the past, jogged my memory and a story I once heard him tell. It was about being in charge — indeed it was called The Man in Charge. Here it is:
One day, Johnny came into the t.v. room where his dad was watching a baseball game. “Dad, did Mom tell you I passed the drivers’ test today?” “Yes,” the father responded, “The best test ever, I hear, both written and on the road.” “Could I perhaps borrow the car, dad, to take my girlfriend to a movie or to go to a game?”
“John, I knew this day would come,” said the father, “And I am prepared for it and you are not. There are four pre-requisites before you can drive the car: 1. Your mom has not been happy with the way you’ve treated your younger brother and the way you’ve helped out at home. That’s got to change. 2. Your grades: You had two B’s in the last grading period. You are a straight A student and I expect nothing less. 3. I never see you reading anything. Reading is the foremost part of education. Furthermore, you should look through the bible, not for religious signs, but for indications of things you can learn day to day.” “Is there anything else?” Johnny asks. “Yes, there’s number 4. It’s that long hair. I’ve told you to get that haircut.”
So about three weeks later John comes into the den and says, “Dad, I’m ready. I’ve gone through the prerequisites.” His father responds. “John, it goes without question I’m really happy about what your mother says you’ve been doing. I’m happy about this grading period. And I see you reading a book, and once in a while even skimming the Bible. Great, those are three A+’s. But on Number 4 — you still have that long hair.”
This time John is prepared. “But Dad, I learned in the Bible that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Jesus himself all had long hair.” But the father was ready for John: “You are absolutely right, son. They all had long hair. And they walked their butts off everywhere that they went.”
The man in charge.