A Knight to Remember in The Power of Negative Thinking

Miles Anderson

Bob Knight, one of the most successful college basketball coaches in NCAA history,will perhaps be best remembered for heaving steel chairs across the court and chocking horrified pupils than winning over 900 career games as a head coach. So, naturally, I expected Knight’s new book to be about how he takes long walks on the beach with his wife while thinking of butterflies, puppy dogs, and the next African orphan he will selflessly adopt.

But sadly, this is not the case.

Bob Knight uses over four decades of coaching experience to summarize a philosophy of his in the new book, The Power of Negative Thinking.
Bob Knight uses over four decades of coaching experience to summarize a philosophy of his in the new book, The Power of Negative Thinking.

Instead, Knight treats the audience to a didactic novel with a title that speaks for itself: The Power of Negative Thinking.

With over 40 years of head coaching expertise, Knight discusses how negative thinking produces positive results, both in basketball coaching and in daily life.

Being a smiley, optimistic guy, I couldn’t wait to brutally lampoon Knight’s approach to life, given that he and I relate as well as Darth Vader and nose-breathing.

Indeed, The Power of Negative Thinking has little structure, random but ample historical evidence, and plenty of basketball knowledge from the man who coached as head basketball coach at Army, Indiana, and Texas Tech before moving on to commentate on college basketball games for ESPN in 2008.

It took me about 50 pages to realize that Knight wasn’t going to drown on about how he hates the world and how he loves to shoot cute little animals on his private ranch (the latter of which is actually true) for the entirety of the novel.

Knight and co-author Bob Hammel conjure up a basis of an argument that focuses on the power of the word “can’t”, including an abridged Ten Commandments and “Knight’s Nuggets,” tidbits at the end of every chapter teaching his audience how to be more negative.

Furthermore, Knight says that winning a basketball game is not a celebration or triumph, but an exact science that boils down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Messiah Knight says that fun should be sucked out of sports all together. More accurately, he says that basketball comes down to two distinctly different outcomes: winning and losing, the latter of which should be avoided at all costs.

What a lucky wife he has!

The only highlights of the novel are when Knight writes about various incidents throughout his coaching career, including his Indiana team’s 1975-76 championship game performance, and his coaching style, such as his reluctance to call a timeout in late-game situations.

Bothersome elements include the repetition of vocabulary and usage of italics on every other page. It was so annoying!

Nevertheless, Knight has to be commended for the way he inserts significant historical evidence in order to advance his prophetic view on the world

In short, Knight has convinced me that he is not secretly some sort of Devil reincarnated who is intended to hate every living soul.

Instead, Knight convinced me that he is a logical jerk who has no concept of empathy or happiness.

In a promotional interview with NPR, he reiterated his bad boy image by insulting Indiana University’s administration.

“The last five or six years that I was there, I didn’t agree with people, I didn’t like the people that I was working for,” he said. “The biggest mistake I made was thinking I could stay there, and shouldn’t have.”

Knight said of the former athletic director of Indiana University who supposedly caused the hotheaded coach to quit.

The tradmark intensity, coupled with his wealth of basketball wisdom, make The Power of Negative Thinking a must read for basketball fans.

Love him or hate him, Bob Knight can’t help being Bob Knight. So job well done, Bob Knight. Job well done.