A Chickenshit Scenario

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Here Be Dragons—Bonefishing with Bob Knight, By Kevin Koenig (continued)
Photos by Billy Black

Kevin Koenig and Bob Knight

A Chickenshit Scenario

The fact that the fish were scarce was actually a blessing for me. Knight and I really got to talk. I noticed the night before at dinner that he drank sweet iced tea throughout. Not exactly the norm in the barroom at the Big Game Club. I asked him if he drank alcohol. “Not really,” he said. “No real reason for it, I just never found anything I liked the taste of.”

Then he revisited one of the first questions I had asked him when we got to the island. The great barroom debate: “Who is your all-time NBA starting lineup?” He originally said Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Jerry West and Michael Jordan, and left the fifth spot open. But with some time to ruminate on the query, now he had this to say: “You know, I’ve been thinking about this chickenshit scenario you’ve asked of me.”

I wracked my brain trying to think of which chickenshit scenario that might be.

Then he went on. “You can’t do an all-time starting five. Because you need Jordan, Bird and Magic. But you also need Oscar, West and Bill Russell.”

“So you’re saying you want a sixth man? OK.”

“No! I don’t want six, I want eight!”

We also talked about Mike Krzyzewski, his former protégé when he coached at West Point. Coach K would go on to break Knight’s all-time wins record in NCAA Division I basketball at Duke. Krzyzewski had been a player at West Point before becoming an assistant coach there, and Knight mentioned that after he graduated he went to Korea for a few years. I expressed amazement at the famously ageless Krzyzewski. “What?! Coach K fought in the Korean War? How the hell old is that guy, anyway?” Knight looked at me like I was an idiot. “Well Korea’s been there for hundreds of years,” he growled. “Just because he went there doesn’t mean he went there during the war!” Then he jabbed me in the ribs with the butt of his fly rod. He leaned back and indulged in a satisfied smirk, then continued. “Just when I was beginning to think you weren’t as stupid as I originally thought.”

Next I asked him what he was reading, and it turned out to be a lot. One book by John Grisham, another about the Civil War, and a third on D-Day. I couldn’t help but needle him about a famous quip that limns out pretty clearly his thoughts on writers. “You know, for a guy that said most people learn how to write by second grade and then move on to greater things, you sure read a lot,” I said. Knight paused, his eyes twinkled as he bit his lower lip.

“Yeah. I may have said that at one time or another.”

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Anglers Journal, available here ▶

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