FORT WAYNE – Sports people are nuts.
– Bob Knight
Well, howdy, there, Coach. And how was the coma, anyway?
Because, listen, you must have been under since 1832 if its just now dawning that sports people are, you know, about half-a-bubble off plumb. These are people whod shed Benjamins in drifts 10 feet high if you could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Babe Ruth once touched this hot dog wrapper. Theyd sell their first born if you could prove this whiskey bottle was the same one Ty Cobb once threw at a fan.
Also this whiskey bottle. And this whiskey bottle. And this tire iron, and that grenade.
Point is, sports people will spend until moths fly out of their wallets if they think someone famous once touched/sweated in/bled on something. Its weird, all right. It might even be a tad creepy.
How did Knight himself put it the other day, when word got out that he was selling his NCAA championship rings and Olympic gold medal at auction?
I guess there are people who want to own things, things that are the results of what someone else did in sports, he said.
No, sir. It doesnt sound weird at all when you say it like that.
But, really, it is all about people shelling out gobs of dough to buy a piece of someone elses glory, like those rings and that gold medal. Theyll fetch a chunk of change, even if they have no personal value to whoever buys them. I mean, what are you gonna do with someone elses Olympic gold medal? Pass it off as your own?
CRAZY SPORTS PERSON: Hey, check out my Olympic gold medal!
CRAZY SPORTS PERSONS GUEST: You won an Olympic gold medal?!
SPORTS PERSON: Oh, heck, no. This is Bob Knights Olympic gold medal!
SPORTS PERSONS GUEST: Does he know you have it?
And, OK, so a lot of the bidders who show up at these auctions arent there to buy items to display in their living rooms. Theyre there, a lot of them, to buy stuff to put on public display. So maybe those rings and that gold medal wind up in some museum somewhere.
Knight doesnt much care where they wind up. Hes selling this stuff, he said, to pay for his grandkids education. And its not like hell miss any of it, anyway; hes always been a notably unsentimental man, so no surprise that most of its been resting comfortably in boxes or desk drawers or maybe underneath all those red sweaters he no longer wears.
I dont put anything up in the house, he said. If you came into the house, you would think I was a mailman. And I dont even wear rings.
So there you have it, Crazy Sports People. Knights Olympic medal can be your Olympic medal. His rings can be your rings.
As for me .
Well, the only Knight memorabilia I own is a handful of blown deadlines waiting for him to open up the IU locker room. But I do understand the appeal of the other stuff.
Id pay big money, for instance, for The Chair. Id pay even bigger money for the starter pistol he once fired at Russ Brown of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Loaded or unloaded. Doesnt matter.