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A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers Paperback – November 1, 2011
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Twenty-five years after it spent sixteen weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list, A Season on the Brink remains the most celebrated basketball book ever written. Granted unprecedented access to legendary coach Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers during the 1985â86 season, John Feinstein saw and heard it allâpractices, team meetings, strategy sessions, and midgame huddlesâas the team worked to return to championship form. The result is an unforgettable chronicle that not only captures the drama and pressure of big-time college basketball but also paints a vivid portrait of a complex, brilliant coach as he walks the fine line between genius and madness.
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I believe much of Knight's public has a love-hate attitude toward him. He can be a warm friend and it is evident that, when someone he cares about is in trouble, he goes to great lengths to comfort, encourage, help in any way he can. The man has heart, but he also has a dark side. Did he abuse players through the years? I would have to say yes. I'm amazed in one sense that he got so many blue chip players to play for him. I would have refused in a heartbeat, knowing that he would crush me with his screaming and his profanity. But I guess it speaks to his amazing reputation as a smart coach that so many players gravitated to his program. Players learned a great deal from him.
I must admit I resented the constant psychological games Knight played with his team. He would curse, cajole, encourage, give pep talks, scream in-your-face dress downs, and then act as if nothing unusual had ever happened.
But in regard to this book, I still say it was entertaining to read and it's a great basketball story.
You will be hard pressed to find a book that contains this amount of detail. The basketball scenes described are riveting. Knight though flawed comes across as a principled and loyal man who's inability to control his temper is baffling. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested about the inner workings of a team.
While he had unfettered and unlimited access to Bobby Knight and to his players John Feinstein did not use the opportunity to understand Bob Knight the man and the coach -- where he came from, what motivates him, what qualities make him one of the best coaches who ever lived -- and to understand his players, and instead just watched the Indiana Hossiers practice and play games. The book is at its best in the rare moments when we are offered glimpses into how Knight interacts with people whom he loves and respects -- his protege the Duke coach Mike K, his former star Isiah Thomas, and his own son. It's these intimate interactions that tell us about the man, how he's rampaged and ravaged by demons, and how he can never come to terms with his conflicted emotions.
Bobby Knight is a lot like Steve Jobs. Both men are extremely talented, brilliant, dedicated, and obsessed. But both men are also ultimately deep down inside very insecure and very angry who compensate for their emotional failings by demanding complete loyalty from those around them, by bullying and demeaning those that most care for them, and by focusing single-mindedly on success. As such, there's only so much one can take of either man, and it's certainly no fun reading about either.