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Joe Hillman: Bob Knight ‘was a great friend’

1987 championship team member remembers coach Bob Knight

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Joe Hillman was on the court when Indiana took home the NCAA championship in 1987, and he played for Coach Bob Knight for four years at IU.

Hillman said the coach was more than what people saw on the sidelines.

Hillman said Knight was a man who demanded excellence on and off the court, and supported his players long after they were on his team.

“Well it was absolutely fun,” Hillman said. “It was the most fun when we were winning and it was miserable when we were losing.”

Joe Hillman was just a sophomore on the 1987 team when he took home a championship under coach Bob Knight.

“He demanded excellence,” Hillman said. “Winning just became a habit and you were just kinda expected to do that.”

Knight is one of the winningest coaches of all time, but Hillman said on those rare occasions where the team did lose, the coach turned that into a learning experience.

“Every loss was a real teaching point for him to get after us to demand more and really push some buttons,” said Hillman.

Hillman said Knight expected precision on the court and off and those lessons shaped him into a successful financial advisor.

“He was really big on time management and punctuality. He wanted you there, and then preparation,” Hillman said. “I mean we use preparation every single day with our clients here at Wellington. He prepared us for games through practice breaking down film that when you got to a game, the games were easy.”

Knight was known for his passion. He was often broadcast in his most exhilarated state, but Hillman said the Knight he knew had another side.

“He was a great friend, and if I needed something after I graduated, I could call him up and ask him,” Hillman said. “And that to me is the stuff most people didn’t see with Coach Knight, was the ability to say, ‘Hey, Hillman how are you doing? Everything all right?’ That’s the gratitude I had for him as a friend, and going forward, that’s how I will remember him for the rest of my life.”