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A bit of background is in order. Knight's distaste for the Wildcats' program and their oft-criticized coach, John Calipari, is hardly a secret. In addition to roasting Calipari and his one-and-done approach to recruiting in speeches for months, Knight refused to even mention "Kentucky" by name. Though that ended late in March as the Wildcats sliced and diced their way through the NCAA brackets en route to the national championship, it will be interesting to see whether Knight holds a grudge.
We won't know whether hard-core Kentucky fans do, since ESPN has decided that Knight won't work Kentucky games at Rupp Arena. The network apparently doesn't mind providing some kindling -- imagine a postgame meeting between the two, or a production meeting beforehand -- but it doesn't want to risk the bonfire Knight might ignite simply by showing up courtside in Lexington. Exactly why he agreed to the new assignment remains anyone's guess. The only thing Knight said about the arrangement, according to a statement released by ESPN, is that "I'm looking forward to watching and describing these games."
Even though he turns 72 on Oct. 25, Knight has remained almost as grumpy and controversial off the court as he once was on it. Nearly four years ago, after a career's worth of railing against gambling, he agreed to ride shotgun for announcer Billy Packer on a string of cheesy NCAA tournament specials taped at a sports book on the Las Vegas Strip. Packer explained the choice of locale by explaining at the time, "Bob and I, and a lot of people, want to really experience what this is really like because we do think, next to being center court, this is the place to be."
Right. Because nothing says "March Madness" like scantily clad cocktail waitresses, a heaping buffet, a wall of wide-screen TVs and people wandering aimlessly in the background or standing in line at the windows. Never mind that when Knight was coaching at Indiana and always putting the best interests of the game ahead of his own, he complained about betting lines published in the Bloomington paper this way: "Why don't the newspapers run whores' phone numbers? Is betting on basketball, football or baseball less illegal than prostitution?"
Outside of Las Vegas, the answer is still no. But it serves as a reminder that when the price is right, just about anything can be bought.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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