Analysis: The A.J. Guyton Letter

A.J. Guyton has asked Bob Knight to come back and bury the hatchet and be part of Guyton's induction ceremony into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame. Here are my thoughts on the chances of that happening.

You may have seen the open letter circulating around that A.J. Guyton has sent to former IU coach Bob Knight asking him to bury the hatchet and come back to Indiana.

Guyton, who will be inducted into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame on Nov. 7, penned a letter on Facebook asking Knight come back and attend the induction ceremony for him.

While I completely understand and support the sentiments, I just don’t think there’s any way it could happen. Knight didn’t come back for his own induction, nor did he come back for the inductions of players like Steve Downing or Landon Turner.

So what makes you think he would change direction and come back for Guyton?

Again, I would be surprised. At the same time, I’ve always wondered if there might be one plea from someone that could make it through and cause Knight to finally let his bitter feelings toward the former administration go.

But I’ve just had so many people – many of them former players – tell me it will never happen that I’ve become numb to the thought of it.

If you didn’t see Guyton’s letter, here is some of what he put up on Facebook.

"Open letter to you Coach Knight:

"I want to thank everyone who's taken the time to send a message congratulating me on my most recent accomplishment. If you don't know by now, I was recently nominated for induction into the Indiana University sports HOF along with 4 other worthy members. Honestly I initially heard about the news a couple months ago while vacationing in Texas so it didn't come as a major surprise when it was announced yesterday. One thing I remember is having a feeling of shock, joy and disappointment. What could be disappointing you ask?

"Upon hearing the news from Dr. Fred Glass, I was saddened. I started thinking about the bad games I had and how my career at Indiana ended. How could they still want me in the HOF after that? I felt a feeling of "undeserved" because I didn't win any big ten titles nor did I lead any teams past the second round of the NCAA tournament. Being etched into the history of IU basketball means you lead, won & conquered right? I know Isiah Thomas wouldn't approve. I've always been aware of that & I make sure my utmost respect goes to the real winners at Indiana University, the champions. After getting reassurance from family members & former competitors (Mateen Cleaves being one of them) that I was deserved, I still felt there's something missing. As I was riding home from the store, I saw a Facebook post from a friend who lives in Texas. It said, "at Bob Knight field house, about to take the court". That was the "Ah HA" moment!

"What's missing is the man who personifies Indiana basketball. The man who's the bridge between the past & the present. The negative feeling I had was knowing he wouldn't be a part of this celebration. I realized at that moment how much his approval meant to me, mainly because he's the sole reason I'm considered for this honor.

"I feel the Indiana basketball community is torn. My loyalty is & has always been with Bob Knight. I attended IU because there was an opportunity to play & people said I couldn't make it under Coach Knight. He didn't overly recruit me, there was no press conference. He simply asked after my visit 'so are you coming to Indiana or not' as he gripped my shoulder tightly. 'Yes sir' I replied. That was it! The turning point from deciding to go to Michigan State was Coach Knight's one simple statement to me & my parents. "I can't guarantee you're going to play right away but you will have a fair opportunity to earn minutes, you will graduate in 4 years, you will leave here a better person, & there's nothing I won't do for you once you graduate". I've called Coach on 4 different occasions since i've graduated without any prior contact with him & each time he did what I asked. This is why my loyalty has always been with Bob Knight.

“On the flip side, I am Indiana basketball. I couldn't abandon the few fans, supporters & memories I still have. I made multiple efforts to ingratiate myself back into the IU basketball family. Once I did, I realize how different it is, how separated we are. There's only one trace of Knight's time and that's old reliable Tim Garl. I believe there will be & has been a black cloud hanging over Indiana University because of the severed relationship. Indiana has just as much or more history as Duke, UNC, Kentucky, UCONN & UCLA, the "storied" programs. The one common denominator is the relationship the school has with the coaching legends (Dean Smith, Jim Calhoun etc) & former players. The break up was bad, it was awful, it ruined my Senior season of basketball...

“All these things factors into why the relationships seems to be forever damaged, the relationship between Coach Knight & Indiana University.

“I'm saying this to say, without you Coach Knight, the relationships are strange at IU. We are accepted and appreciated but there's a mission to "move on" from us. You're the only person who can make everything right & bridge this gap. It's not about the former administration, it's about the players you created. We are in limbo, stuck in between. We are all experiencing various successes but not knowing how to include IU basketball. Receiving this induction without being able to look you in the eye and thank you for creating me makes it "less authentic". I remember you couldn't attend the Wooden Awards because of all the things going on at IU during that time. I didn't go without you.

“Coach Knight, you taught each and every one of us how to over achieve by being the best AT being prepared. To believe it's not about talent, it's about outsmarting talented players. To be there for one another on & off the basketball court, for life. To have a short memory when it comes to mistakes, but also train yourself to make as little mistakes as possible. To make up for those mistakes by making the right plays. I don't know what happened during that time & I'm certainly not asking anyone to apologize for anything. I'm simply extending a public invitation for you to do ME a favor, attend the induction ceremony on November 7th, it would mean the world to me as a former player and supporter. For you to come see the young professional you've helped create. I believe it's time, i believe the time is now.

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it's absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive. It's a long shot, but if we share this letter enough, it might end up in the right hands. I'll never speak of this again, I also believe in moving on. Indiana University, what ever charity you have to donate to on Coach Knight's behalf, lets get it done. Time's ticking & we all deserve a homecoming. I'm asking you Coach Bob Knight, you said you'd do anything for me once I graduated, can you please attend my induction ceremony, which is coming back home to Indiana University?’’

Good for Guyton. It was a nice heart felt letter and perhaps he’s right on that final point. It is indeed a long shot but you never know. If enough people ask, you wonder if Knight will ultimately change his position and reunite a fractured fan base and confused group of former players.

At the very least, Guyton made an effort. You have to applaud him for that.


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