Arena manager claims Knight sought out fight

Monday, December 17, 2001

HOUSTON -- An arena manager says Bob Knight cursed him and offered to fight when he confronted the Texas Tech coach over remarks about the building's locker rooms.

Jerry MacDonald, general manager of the Compaq Center, said Sunday that he approached Knight after the coach criticized the size of its locker rooms following a game Friday night. Knight responded with a flurry of profanity, MacDonald said.

"He said, 'If you want to settle this right now, let's step outside,"' MacDonald said Sunday. "I could not believe what I was hearing. I said, 'Step outside and settle the size of our locker rooms? Are you nuts?"'

Houston television station KRIV first reported MacDonald's account Saturday. MacDonald repeated the allegations in an interview with The Associated Press.

Knight, fired as coach at Indiana after a series of outbursts, was unavailable for comment, preparing his team for its next game.

Team spokesman Randy Farley said he saw the meeting between Knight and MacDonald, on a loading dock that leads to where team busses are parked. While saying he could not hear what was said, Farley added that he never considered the situation to be confrontational.

"At no time did Coach raise his voice or respond unprofessionally to a situation that was foisted upon him," Farley said. "To the contrary, the coach talked calmly and quietly with the Compaq (Center) employee before getting on the bus and taking his seat."

Gerald Myers, Tech's athletic director, said his only knowledge of the situation was what Farley had told him. He said the spokesman assured him it "wasn't a loud exchange."

After Tech defeated Houston 71-64 in the nightcap of a doubleheader, Knight used his news conference to criticize the 25-year-old facility, which also is home to the Houston Rockets.

"Just look around. Check the facilities out a little bit. We had a dressing room originally that would have been very, very cramped with four midgets," Knight said.

MacDonald said that the recently refurbished dressing room was designed by the Rockets and meets NBA standards. He said he told Knight he didn't appreciate the coach's comments about his arena and began explaining some of the building's history when Knight erupted with a string of expletives, followed by the offer to go outside, then more profanity.

"I've been in this business 26 years at two NBA arenas, and I've never come across an individual like this," MacDonald said, calling Knight "the most arrogant, disrespectful and spoiled" person he's met.

Myers said Knight asserted his First Amendment privileges after MacDonald approached him. He added that MacDonald, who was at the news conference, should have defended his building right there instead of choosing to do it afterward.

"He provoked the whole situation by following Bob out to the bus," Myers said.

Knight was dismissed after a storied and stormy career at Indiana, which finally tired of his on- and off-court tirades in September 2000 after school officials said he violated a zero-tolerance edict on his behavior.

This is his first season at Tech.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: