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Former Indiana Basketball Coach Bobby Knight On Trump: 'Best Person For The Job'


Governor Mike Pence endorsed Ted Cruz yesterday in Indianapolis, although he also had kind words for Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has also been endorsed by perhaps the best-known Hoosier on the planet. Forgive me Cole Porter. We mean Bobby Knight, the legendary Indiana University basketball coach. Coach Knight is celebrated for winning national championships, running an honest program and holding his players to high academic standards. He's also famous for having a titanic, chair-hurling temper. He is not known for political endorsements or being involved in campaigns.

BOBBY KNIGHT: I think that I'm like millions of Americans today that would like to see some things done that take us back to where we want to be, where we can really be proud of America, we have leadership that enables us to do that. I think I'm just one of millions of people. I'm not out there by myself. I just want to see us be the very best that we can possibly be and be thought of worldwide by the very best there is.

SIMON: What did you hear Donald Trump say that convinced you you wanted to help him?

KNIGHT: Well, Donald Trump didn't say anything that convinced me 'cause I went through people and people that were involved and least - involved themselves in the election. I made a little chart. I put together the things that he's done in life. And Donald Trump has created more jobs than all of the other candidates and politicians in the country. That's huge. That's important. That was a big thing for me to put down on my checklist.

SIMON: Well, let me ask you, as I don't have to tell you, some - the best basketball players don't always turn out to be the best coaches. A different set of skills sometimes. So does Mr. Trump have the temperament, the executive profile, to be an effective president or...

KNIGHT: Well, I'm not - I'm not sure what that temperament is. I think we're getting way off - way off the mark here. I think what Mr. Trump has is this - he has experiences. He has put more things together in businesses around the United States, around the world. And he's had some things that didn't go exactly right. He's been able to find a way to resurrect those things. He's been able to make some changes.

SIMON: Yeah. Hillary Clinton has a lot of experience, doesn't she?

KNIGHT: (Laughter) I don't even think she enters into the program.

SIMON: What are the top one or two issues that concern you most about the United States?

KNIGHT: First of all, I think in a Trump administration there would never, ever be a Benghazi situation develop. I think we don't have the kind of situation between the White House and in military people that we should have. I think all of those things would be changed under Donald Trump.

SIMON: What about domestic issues?

KNIGHT: What the hell do I know anything about domestic issues? That's for somebody a lot smarter than I am. And you got to understand that I'm just talking about a guy that I think and all those things that need to be done, like domestic issues and whatever, here's my choice of the guy to do it. It's just that simple.

SIMON: Can he unify the United States?

KNIGHT: How the hell would I know that? Do you know that? Do you think you could? Do you think I could? I just think that here is my choice. I'm not going to talk and say he should do this, he should - that's not my responsibility. I'm not qualified

SIMON: What made you decide to get involved or to speak out now?

KNIGHT: Well, because I - people have (unintelligible) asked me what I thought. Coach, how do you feel about this or that or whatever? And I'm the history and government major. I like history. I have never been a Republican or a Democrat. I don't care. I - what I want is the best person for the job. If it's a man or a woman, it's just the best person that I'd like to see get the job.

SIMON: Coach Bobby Knight. We reached him yesterday, following his endorsement of Donald Trump. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.