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Knight to become coaching wins leader

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

December 20, 2006

As Bob Knight closes in on Dean Smith's record for wins by a Division I men's coach (Pat Summitt holds the women's mark and is over 900), it is time to reflect on a great career.

I think Knight will realize how important this record is because he has affected so many lives, on and off the court. There have been so many players who have been there with him over the four decades he's patrolled the sidelines. He is proud that so many of them have been affected by his teaching.

His classroom is a basketball court. That's his laboratory and he has been able to get his concepts across to his players. He has that ability to communicate, and when you talk to some of his former players like Isiah Thomas, Quinn Buckner and Steve Alford, they will tell you they learned more on that court than in any classroom in Bloomington.

Knight has taught his players about doing things the right way. They have competed with a sense of pride and passion.

When you look at his legacy, it will take into account all the lives he has affected. Think about all the players he has influenced, starting way back to his days at West Point. These athletes have learned about discipline and playing as a team. He has always been, and always will be about team … T for togetherness, E for effort, A for attitude and M for mental toughness.

Knight has always taught his players about being unselfish. That is a very important lesson, my friends, on and off the court. Giving to your teammates and giving to others is very meaningful.

When I think about both Knight and Dean Smith, they both ran clean programs. You never heard anything about NCAA violations, but you heard about young people walking down that aisle, getting their diploma and being prepared for the greatest game there is, the game of life.

I think all of the positives over Bob Knight's career will outweigh the negatives.

To me, Knight is a lot like Francis Albert Sinatra. When it is all said and done, and Knight passes Smith as the coach with the most W's, one song will epitomize the General's life -- My Way.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.