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Volume 25 No. 198
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New ESPN "30 For 30" Offers Look At Bob Knight's Downfall At Indiana

Director Robert Abbott started working on the Knight film three years ago and finished just a few weeks ago
Photo: ESPN Images

ESPN’s new “30 for 30” on Bob Knight is a “captivating look” at the Basketball HOFer’s downfall, according to Zak Keefer of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. In “The Last Days of Knight,” veteran sports producer Robert Abbott “offers a new lens in the controversial events that led to Knight’s untimely dismissal: his own.” Abbott’s reporting when he was a producer with CNN in ‘99 “set off the dominoes that would eventually lead to Knight’s 29-year career” at Indiana “ending in disgrace.” Keefer wrote “Knight” is a look at a “legend’s downfall, at the power an influential coach can hold on an institution, and at the roadblocks awaiting anyone … willing to challenge that power.” The film “feels like watching [Bob] Woodward and [Carl] Bernstein walk you through how they toppled Nixon.” The film was “never Abbott’s idea, and he resisted it at first.” One of the “hidden triumphs of Abbott’s film” is that it tells the story of former IU G Neil Reed, who was reportedly choked by Knight in a practice in '97. Reed's story has "long been forgotten in all of this” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/6).

DARK KNIGHT: The film debuts today on the new ESPN+ platform, and ESPN VP/Digital Media Programming John Lasker said it has "lined up perfectly." On Long Island, Neil Best wrote the film "pulls no punches despite the fact that Knight was an ESPN college basketball analyst" from '08-15 (NEWSDAY.com, 4/10). THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch wrote Abbott's reporting "ultimately led to the downfall of Knight." Abbott serves as "both the film's director and narrator." It is a "sobering look at Abbott's reporting journey and does offer some positives on Knight." Reed "comes off rightfully as the moral force in the film." Abbott "started working on the Knight film three years ago and finished just a few weeks ago," though he "struggled making himself the center of the story, especially with no visuals." Abbott said that he "liked that the film was being offered on ESPN+ as opposed to linear television." Abbott: "I actually think it's good. It's part of the future of ESPN, part of the future of the industry, and I always liked to be the first on things" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/9). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand wrote the film is "worth watching, but it could have been better." It is "sort of weird that ESPN did this documentary considering it employed Knight after he did all these things at Indiana." With Abbott "narrating the 30 for 30, it came across as self-serving, even if that wasn't the intention" (NYPOST.com, 4/10). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote under the header "Two-Faced ESPN Only Investigates Bobby Knight After He Left Bristol" (N.Y. POST, 4/9).