I have to say, when I first saw the headline "Bob Knight auctioning rings, medal," a brief wave of terror came over me. You see these stories a lot in sports (particularly if you've been watching ESPN's latest "30 for 30"): A great sports figure sees his life fall into financial disrepair, and has no choice but to sell off some of the great symbolic accomplishments of his career just to pay off whomever he owes money. Surely this couldn't be happening to Bob Knight? Could it?
The answer, fortunately, is no. In fact, as the AP's story makes clear from the first graph, the former Indiana coach and ESPN analyst is selling his three championship rings and Olympics gold medal (as well as other items) for a much less depressing reason: To help pay for his grandkids' college.
"John Havlicek and I were just talking one day about all the stuff we had accumulated over the years," Knight said Monday from the Denver airport, referring to his college teammate at Ohio State who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics. "As we talked we decided the money could be very useful to put our grandchildren through college."
"I've got stuff I didn't even know I had," Knight said. "I don't put anything up in the house. If you came into the house you would think I was a mailman. And I don't even wear rings."
Most coaches, even those far less accomplished than Knight (which is approximately 99.9 percent of them, now that I think about it) maintain whole warehouses of memorabilia and sporting detritus they've collected over the years. Walk into nearly any coach's office in the country, and you'll see plaques on plaques on plaques, photos, banners, various celebratory nets strewn across trophies, and pretty much anything else you can think of. But I have to say it isn't the least bit surprising to learn that Knight is the exception. And I can't really imagine him wearing a championship ring, either.
The only question now is how much such items can fetch on the open auction market. Between deep-pocketed, hard-core Indiana fans rounding into middle-age and the massive non-partisan swath of general sports collectors already out there, my guess would be a lot.