The Donald and the coach, together in Indiana
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Well, I guess that answers the question that has been on everyone's mind: "What has Bob Knight been up to?" The widely held assumption was that the Hall of Fame college basketball coach and avid fisherman was lost somewhere on the St. Joseph River in Indiana, cussing at a steelhead trout. Clearly, what he's really been doing is boning up on presidential history. Some highlights from his introduction of presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE at a rally last week in Indianapolis:

"They're going to take all you [Trump supporters] and put you next to our Founding Fathers and George Washington. That's what the hell they're going to do with you people."

"I'll tell you who they said wasn't presidential. I don't even know what the hell 'presidential' means, but they told him he wasn't presidential. And that guy they told all these people that wanted to say, you're not presidential, that guy was Harry Truman. ... And Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944 saved, saved millions of American lives. And that's what Harry Truman did. And he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here's a man who would do the same thing, because he's going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States."

Many people still revere Bob Knight in the state of Indiana, not for his remarkably inaccurate history of the Truman presidency, but for the three national championships he won as coach of the Indiana University Hoosiers, as well as an Olympic gold medal as coach of the 1984 U.S. men's basketball team. While he was fired from the school in 2000 for "uncivil, defiant and unacceptable" behavior, there's no questioning Knight's success as a basketball coach, just as there's no questioning the meteoric rise and success of Trump during this election cycle.


But like Trump — who won the Indiana primary — amidst all that winning have been countless incidents of loutish, misogynistic and abusive behavior rooted in unchecked narcissism and nurtured by idolatry. As a coach, Knight slapped, head-butted, choked and kicked his own players. He once threw a chair at an official, physically threatened his school's athletic director, threw a flower pot at a secretary, assaulted a police officer in Puerto Rico, and once remarked that if a woman is being raped, she should "relax and enjoy it."

The rise of Trump has elicited all sorts of explanation and study. One prevailing theory is that Trump's willingness to "tell the truth" resonates with a demographic that equates honesty to boorishness. Trump and Knight are antithetical heroes to those who feel stifled in this age of political correctness. They have found their niche in spouting incredibly offensive things, doubling down on their divisive rhetoric and never apologizing.

The term "political correctness," hijacked by both liberals and conservatives alike, has become distorted in its affect. The left uses political correctness as a rationale to, at times, act as language police, suffocating authentic thought and, ultimately, breeding cynicism. The right sees political correctness as weakness and perpetually fights to proclaim their distance from the "sissy," "PC" way of thinking.

The appeal of Knight over the last two decades is not that he is a winner — he won his last championship 29 years ago — but the nostalgia his tough-love approach inspires. Knight reminds us of an age when hitting a kid was the right way to discipline. He reminds us of a time when people didn't "go all soft" on abusive tirades or sexist behavior. Knight's "old school" approach to leadership has always been romanticized, even when he stopped winning. There is just something about him that attracts middle-aged and older white men longing for the way things were.

When Trump talks about how he will "Make America Great Again," he's talking about an America in which men like Knight were inviolable. So, while Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Texas) inexplicably called a hoop a "basketball ring" (seriously, senator — a ring?!), Trump brought in a relic who can still fill a stadium.

Last Wednesday at the rally in Indianapolis, Knight said, "There has never been a more honest politician than Donald Trump," and added that Trump "is the most prepared man in history to step in as president" — both of which are ludicrous statements.

I wonder what Harry Truman would think.

Spatola is a West Point graduate and former captain in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as a college basketball analyst for ESPN and is a host on SiriusXM radio.