Knight passes Smith with 880th win

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 1, 2007

By Jaime Aron

Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas — Bob Knight won 880 games doing things his way. And he sure celebrated it his way.

Long appreciated for his strategy and long questioned for his methods, Knight added the crowning achievement to his Hall of Fame career by becoming the leader in Division I men’s basketball victories when Texas Tech beat New Mexico 70-68 on Monday.

Having finally reached the pinnacle he’s long insisted didn’t matter, Knight proved otherwise by soaking in every moment of the party that followed — especially the soundtrack.

“I’ve always thought that if there’s ever an occasion for a song to be played on my behalf, I wanted it to be Frank Sinatra singing ‘My Way,”‘ said Knight, whose usually glaring facade showed hints of cracking during the outpouring of emotions.

All facets of Knight’s personality were on display during a half-hour postgame ceremony and the nearly 20-minute soliloquy he gave instead of a news conference. He tyold stories adn dripped names like Red Auerbach, Pete Newell and Clair Bee.

Knight summoned a reporter after the news conference wanting to thank former North Carolina coach Dean Smith, whose record he broke.

The celebration began with as much relief over the win as the fact Knight got the record on his second try. The game wasn’t decided until a long 3-pointer by New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Red and black confetti fell and the song played. There were speeches by Knight and administrators, plus videotaped tributes from Smith, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Texas’ Rick Barnes, and statements from several NBA coaches who played for Knight. He also received two trophies and the game ball; a banner was unfurled marking this achievement.

“You are the best there’s ever been,” said Krzyzewski, who played for Knight and served as his assistant. “I’m so glad you’ve been my mentor, you’ve been my coach and you’ve been my friend.”

Knight’s career record is 880-354. He recently agreed to a contract extension through the 2010-11 season, which doesn’t bode well for anyone hoping to break his record.

Consider this: Krzyzewski has 765 wins and is 59; he’ll be 64 in 2011 and might still be 100 wins behind.

Knight admits the record is a byproduct of longevity. The ultimate standard of college basketball coaching excellence is the 10 national titles won by UCLA’s John Wooden, all in a 12-year span.

Also worth noting: Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt has won the most NCAA games, 925; and Harry Statham of NAIA McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., has won the most men’s games at a four-year college, 925.

Tony Danridge led New Mexico (11-4) with 17 points and Giddens had 14.

Jay Jackson and Martin Zeno led Tech with 22 points each.