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Former IU basketball star Steve Alford reflects on his time with Coach Bob Knight

Remembering Bob Knight

(WISH) — Former Indiana University basketball player Steve Alford is the men’s basketball coach at University of Nevada.

He spoke Thursday with News 8 his office in Nevada about the legacy of Bob Knight. The former IU men’s basketball coach died at age 83, his family said Wednesday.

“Well, obviously, his health has been declining, so I saw him about a month ago and he wasn’t doing very well,” Alford said.

Alford says he knew in the third grade he wanted to play for the Hoosiers. He committed to Coach Knight’s program his junior year in high school.

“My dream every workout I did on the driveway or at New Castle Fieldhouse was preparing myself to hopefully be good enough that he would be interested in me, and then when I committed to him prior to my junior year, that was the most special moment. He called my dad. Dad pulled me out of the cafeteria and said that coach had just called and offered me a scholarship and wanted to know what I wanted to say, and, obviously, it is ‘yes,’ and my dad was like, ‘I figured that, so I already told him that so I don’t have to call him back,’” Alford said. 

Alford entered IU in the fall of 1983 with high expectations from Knight and the university. He would play for Knight on the 1984 Olympic team and eventually lead the Hoosiers to a national championship in 1987. His three-point buzzer beater put the team up by one going into halftime.

Knight was a teacher first, and Alford is passing down the lessons to his players at Nevada.  

“We had notebooks at Indiana because he told us we were another class, he was a professor teaching basketball, and just like he expected us to be on time, attend every day, work hard, work with energy, work with diligence, discipline, he expected that like all other classes we had biology, math, English whatever. It was, and so we learned. I saw him kick players off. I saw him suspend players for not attending class or not doing what they were supposed to be doing academically. So, it didn’t matter to coach how it was going to affect the team, you were going to be a student before you were an athlete. I think that was why a vast majority of his players graduated,” Alford said. 

Alford spent a few years in the NBA and started coaching college basketball in 1991. He faced Knight as the head coach at Iowa. The relationship between Alford, Knight and the university was viewed as frosty at the time.

“I think it was blown way out of proportion. I think it had to do with when I was at Iowa and he was at Indiana, and we were in the same league, so it was the media and Big Ten, and then things started happening unfortunately at Indiana. There were rumors here and there, and we talked quite a bit during those times, and he knew where I was. He has always known where I was. He has always known where I was with my respect for him. My love for him is unconditional, and I wanted Coach Knight to be at Indiana forever,” Alford said.

Alford scored more than 2,400 points at Indiana, but he told News 8 that he got much more than that from his coach.