Retired basketball coach Bob Knight said in a Tuesday interview that letting players leave for the NBA after only a year of playing college ball has “raped college basketball.”
“If I were involved with the NBA I wouldn’t want a 19-year-old or a 20-year-old kid, to bring into all the travel and all the problems that exist in the NBA,” Knight said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” radio show. “I would want a much more mature kid. I would want a kid that maybe I’ve been watching on another team and now he’s 21, 22 years old instead of 18 or 19, and I might trade for that kid. On top of it all, the NBA does a tremendous, gigantic disservice to college basketball. It’s as though they’ve raped college basketball in my opinion.”
This isn’t the first time Knight has made a completely ignorant statement about sexual violence, as Chris Littmann at Sporting News notes: “In a 1988 interview, Knight, when asked how to handle stress, told Connie Chung, ‘I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.’”
At the time of that comment, Knight attempted to clarify, “That’s just an old term that you’re going to use. The plane’s down, so you have no control over it. I’m not talking about that, about the act of rape. Don’t misinterpret me there. But what I’m talking about is, something happens to you, so you have to handle it — now.”
I’m reminded here of something Michael Kimmel wrote a few years ago on the issue of using rape as a metaphor, and that Knight might want to consider the next time he is about to say something dehumanizing about victims of sexual assault (or college basketball players): “Rape is not a verbal put-down; it’s a corporeal invasion. It’s not an athletic defeat; it’s the violation of a body’s integrity. … All equivalences are false equivalences.”
The hosts of “Mike and Mike” did not address Knight’s comment with a follow-up question about his choice of language.