A Letter From Bob Knight To Landon Turner

Bobby Knight instructs Landon Turner during a Dec. 22, 1979 game versus North Carolina.
(photo courtesy of IU Archives Photograph Collection.)

On the evening of his induction to the IU Hall of Fame, former IU basketball great, Landon Turner, was delivered the following letter from his former coach, Bob Knight, by former Herald-Times sports editor & longtime Knight friend, Bob Hammel:

Landon:
For over two years as a member of our basketball team, you were a monumental pain in the ass. You were a kid with enormous talent — oh, and you had some great moments that helped us win some games and championships, the NIT final game was one of those. But times like that only made more frustrating all of those much more frequent times when you didn’t come close to playing to your abilities in a consistent way.
I had just about given up on you as a player who could be counted on to play his best in every game. Then, on Feb. 12, 1981, in our 23rd game of your junior year, we were playing Northwestern at home. Steve Downing and I were going to tell your great parents after the game that we no longer thought you could help our team. Then, with nine minutes to go in that Northwestern game with us about 30 points ahead, I finally put you in the game — and you immediately missed a block-out and gave up a basket. Of course I took you out of the game, but for some reason I don’t understand I put you right back in. For the next 8 and a half minutes you did it — you played to the full extent of your abilities, and it was a joy to watch.
After the game, Steve and I met with your Dad and Mother. Our original plan had been to draft a letter that would make you eligible for the NBA Draft. After the way you had played, before we brought up the letter I asked you a question: “Landon, what keeps you from playing that way all the time?” You said, “I don’t know, Coach, but I would like the chance to try.”
From our next practice through the final game in the NCAA tournament, you were the best player in the country. Our team could not and would not have won the national championship without the way you played. You did a complete turn-around, not only as a player but also as a student. I have never seen anyone make that complete a change in his approach to life.
Then came your summertime accident on the way to King’s Island. Only through great will and determination did you even survive. Your life was changed forever, and you would never experience what you were going to be as a basketball player — the best in the country.
But what you did become, Landon, is the most amazing human being — the greatest example of dealing with and overcoming adversity — that I have ever known. There is no player of all the great, great kids that I have coached that I respect more than you.
My favorite moment as a coach was seeing you become the player I thought you could be. My worst moment as a coach was learning that you would not have a senior season.
And you also gave me my most unforgettable and meaningful moment on a basketball court. It was at one of our Senior Days. You had come down to be part of it — I always appreciated that — and you were in your wheelchair on the court behind me when on the spur of the moment I asked all the former IU players in the stands that day to stand. Then I thought of you, looked back, and needled you as always: “Landon, aren’t you going to stand up?”
You gave me that great big smile and said, “Coach, I am standing, in my heart.”
That, I’ll never forget.
Congratulations for this wonderful recognition and honor, Landon. You deserve to be up on that wall, as a continuing reminder of a great young basketball player whose future changed in a minute and — after a lot of tears and family time, I’m sure — just said, “Well, that’s the way it’s going to be. I’ll make the best of it.”
And you have.

20 comments:

  1. Coach Knight is a flat out class act. I know Coach loves Landon turner, I think that can easily be seen through this letter. This award for Landon is long overdue, and this shows Coach has not forgotten. I think Landon taught Coach as much about life as Coach taught Landon. I think it is a shame that IU currently has a Coach who does not honor the past. No one person has COME CLOSE to doing more for IU basketball than Bob Knight, and IU's current Head Coach never even mentions his name. SHAME on the current IU Head Coach for not publicly calling for the IU administration to rename Assembly Hall, "Knight Hall" and putting the pressure on them to do the right thing.

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    1. Wow, that was easily the dumbest response one could muster up. I love Bob Knight. I love what he did for IU basketball. But there is absolutely no truth that Coach Crean doesn't "honor the past." Actually he does and has reached out to Bob Knight and many of players. Most are big supporters of IU to this day and love what Crean has done. Bob Knight refuses to come back. Crean is constantly quoted talking about how great the tradition is at IU and what BK meant to the program. Please do some research before you just blatantly make up things.

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    2. You are so very wrong that it is laughable.

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    3. That's why in our Hoosier Hysteria video this year we had a video about the past and present Indiana Basketball teams. Crean constantly has former players return to Assembly Hall, and he constantly reaches out to Knight. It's not Crean's fault that Knight won't return. Your post is absolutely ridiculous.

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  2. Can someone please prove me wrong? Please show me where Crean has PERSONALLY reached out to Bob Knight? I know Fred Glass has, that is well documented, but please someone show me somewhere where Tom Crean has personally called up Bob Knight and asked him to come back? If you look at all the videos and youtube speeches of Tom Crean, you will find it very hard to where he even MENTIONS Bob Knight. I do not even believe a reporter has even asked Crean if he has personally called Bob Knight. Regardless, the IU administration needs to rename AH "Knight Hall". It is the right thing to do. So many arenas and have been named after people who accomplished FAR, FAR less than Knight. Nothing could unite IU basketball more than getting Knight rightfully honored. The HOF induction was something that should have been done maybe in 1981 after his 2nd National Title.

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    1. The Problem with that is after his firing Knight has totally turned his back on Indiana University. I don't blame him for being upset, but these are all new people at Indiana University. If the guy doesn't show up for his own induction into the University Hall of fame why should you name your building after him?

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    2. People like you are too ignorant to even bother having a discussion with. Yeah let's name a building after someone who refuses to acknowledge the university at all. Some people.......

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    3. Institutional Naming is governed by this IU policy found here (http://www.indiana.edu/~iuwebdev/projects/vpcpf/production/policies/institutional-naming.shtml). There are two types of Commemorative Names: Memorial Recognition and Benefactor Recognition. Knight would fall under the Memorial Recognition for Assembly Hall since the Benefactor is reserved for those who have made large financial donations to the structure which is to be named. In order to have a building named as a Memorial Recognition a five-year waiting period shall be observed after the death of the individual before considering his or her name for such distinction.

      Here is an article talking about Crean wanting Knight to come back (http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/26283066/32640014) and here is a link to a video called "Then and Now" that played at Hoosier Hysteria this year paying respect to the history of the program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvOjLyFU1w4&feature=player_embedded).

      In closing, you are an idiot BDMW.

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  3. #provedwrong #youlose #movealong

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  4. Coach Knight was set up by so called "friends" INCLUDING Mike Davis, Ron Felling, and enemy Myles Brand and Neil Reid. He is what happens when a man does not cheat, is honest with his talent and he found out the world doesnt work that way anymore. I like Tom Crean... its time to move on. Coach Knight doesnt live in the past... neither should IU fans. Coach Knight spoke with students before he left. FIGURE it out folks.. he was SET UP! So be it. IUs stuffed shirts got what they wanted... the school suffered from Coach Knights absence. That letter to Landon shows he is above the petty politics that spelled his demise as coach of the Hoosiers.

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  5. Knight didnt return for his HOF inductioin because he didnt want to overshadow the other inductees. That is pure class!! Fred Glass completley understood. Just imagine the media circus if he was to return. I dont blame him one bit. Now it is time for the IU admin to step up and give him the recognition that he deserves and rename the Hall that he and his teams made famous. I could CARE less about some ancient bylaw that says you have to be dead 1st!! The right thing to do is get this done. He has earned it and deserves it.

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  6. "I would hope Bob Knight knows he has a 365-day invitation to come back," Crean said by phone. "For him to come back, that’s totally up to him. I wouldn’t hesitate in welcoming him back -- there's no question about that. And if we knew he was coming back, I’d be running out there opening the doors.” ARE YOU PEOPLE SERIOUS, IS THIS ALL CREAN HAS EVER SAID ABOUT GETTING KNIGHT BACK? THAT IS PITIFUL AND CREAN SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIMSELF!!

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  7. How can ANYONE on this planet with a straight face say Crean is "doing it the right way" this guy in my opinion is FILTHY DIRTY!!! In year ONE after Kelvin Sampson he makes illegal calls and claims, "I thought Sunday was the end of the week, not the beginning" and gets slapped with a secondary violation. Then in the recruitment of Gary Harris, he gets slapped with another secondary violation for visiting him on 10/6 when the last day of the no contact period was 10/5 and said it was a oversight. EVERY Coach on earth has 10/5 circled a hundred times as last day of contact. Then the Fish story comes out about AHOPE! Crean hires the son of Mark Adams WHO RUNS AHOPE as his video coordinator and low and behold, 8 players from Indiana Elite commit to IU!! HAHAAHHAAHA!! Once the story breaks Adams kid goes elsewhere. How conincidental is that? HAHAHA!! Mark Adams has been sitting courtside at IU games. Crean knew EVERYTHING that was going on. Mark Adams is Creans Papa Bear Sam Gilbert. Crean may win this year, but he in NO WAY did it the "right way"!!! What once made IU SO SO special is that when they won EVERYONE knew they did it the right way (Bob Knight created that) and now IU is just another rogue, cheating program with ZERO INTEGRITY!! less

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  8. If anyone remembers the guy who commented on every single IUBB indystar article as Ftaylor, always bashing Crean, BDMW is the same guy. He's always trying to find something wrong with Crean. Ask Jay Bilas; who Coach Knight greatly respects, he thinks the ruling is total BS along with nearly every single person associated with college basketball. Apparently you think helping two kids who had nothing receive a good education is unethical. Comparing Mark Adams to Sam Gilbert is nothing but simple ignorance, Gilbert did some nasty shit at UCLA, where all Adams did was get two kids a laptop (school necessity), a cheap iPod and Plane tickets to go home for Christmas, and it wasn't even his money. Please grow up and get over your self.

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  9. Apparently BDMW hasn't seen Landon Turner sitting on the court at recent IU games, where he shakes every players' hand before every game. Saying Tom Crean doesn't respect IU's history is ridiculous, what else do you want him to do, seriously?

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  10. Anonymous, what you are forgetting is that Tom Crean HIRED MARK ADAMS SON AND PUT HIM ON THE IU PAYROLL!! This is why they are getting suspended. The plea deal worked out says it is 9 games for the 185 donation, but the biggest benefit IU gave Mark Adams and A-Hope was GETTING HIS SON A FREAKING JOB!! That is why this stinks and that is the gist of the ESPN piece that the guy named Fish did. As for honoring the past at IU, the past at IU is not being properly honored until the ONE MAN who had the most to do with the great IU tradition is honored!! Why hasnt Crean reached out to Bob Knight? WHY!!! Crean would be the biggest benefactor by getting Knight back. Crean should publically call for IU to rename AH Knight Hall, if he did that, he could walk on water in Bloomington.

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  11. Hey, I thought this was all about Landon Turner.

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