Some basketball coaches have achieved greatness by being inspirational figures. Just think of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who promoted a seven-point creed that included statements like, “Help others. Make friendship a fine art. Make each day your masterpiece.” Coach Wooden took the high road to victory, earning 10 national championships and the enduring love of his players.
When you bet on basketball online, you place your money on the winning teams. Coaching methods don’t matter as long as those methods produce winners. Some coaches, unlike Coach Wooden, have taken a different road to greatness. They’ve cursed at their players. They’ve thrown chairs. They’ve threatened to kill other coaches. Whether you love these five coaches or hate them, you can’t argue with their successes.
No college basketball coach has ever been more hated than Bobby Knight, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Knight pushed the Indiana University basketball team to greatness during his 29-year tenure, earning 662 victories and three national championships. He was fired from Indiana in 1992 and spent his last years as coaching at Texas Tech.
Topping Knight’s list of shenanigans was the legendary chair-throwing incident. Knight earned a technical foul during a matchup between Indiana and Purdue — one of three he’d earn before being ejected from the game — for throwing a chair across the free-throw line. He wasn’t loveable off the court, either, thanks to his often offensive take on sensitive subjects, such as sexual assault, and his penchant for getting caught on camera with his hands around people’s throats. In the end, whether people loved or despised Knight, no one could argue with his winning record.
John Chaney spent 24 years at Temple University, putting together a 516-253 record, making 17 NCAA tournament appearances, winning his conference eight times and winning the conference tournament six times. He also has the distinction of being the only coach in history to threaten to kill another coach on camera.
After a game against the University of Massachusetts, then coached by another explosive character named John Calipari, Chaney burst into Calipari’s press conference, charged the podium and threatened to kill Calipari. Another famous Chaney rage incident occurred in 2005, when he sent in a backup forward to commit hard fouls against Saint Joseph’s. One of the St. Joe players ended up with a broken arm, and Chaney quit in 2006.
A lot of NCAA coaches would tell you they believe John Calipari’s success isn’t legitimate. They point to his teams filled with players who give one season to Kentucky and head to the NBA, and they point to NCAA violations that cost him two Final Four appearances at other universities. Calipari even had the temerity to fake a Boston accent while coaching at UMass, which moved UConn coach Jim Calhoun to nickname him “Johnny Clam Chowder.” Despite the contempt, Calipari’s record stands. He has a .774 career-winning percentage and he led the Wildcats to the 2012 NCAA title.
Few basketball coaches have polarized fans as much as Adolph Rupp, “The Baron of the Bluegrass.” According to legendary sports writer Frank Deford, who reported on Rupp for years while writing for Sports Illustrated, Rupp unleashed a racist rant during halftime at the 1966 NCAA Final. Despite his ornery ways, Rupp’s 42 seasons at Kentucky changed the way that basketball was played. His fast break style transformed a low-scoring sport into the electrifying game we know today. Of course, that transformation came at a cost. As former NCAA star Vernon Hatton said, “It takes six or eight years to get over playing for Coach Rupp. Once you get over it, you get to like him.”
When you think of Jerry Tarkanian, you think of “the towel,” which was a white towel that Tarkanian chewed on while he slouched on the bench. After his 1989-1990 national title team was photographed sitting in a hot tub with Richie “The Fixer” Perry, a notorious gambler, Tarkanian had to resign from UNLV. Tark had the last laugh, however; in 1998, he won $2.5 million after suing the NCAA for harassment. “The Shark” won big at UNLV, Fresno State and Long Beach, although each school suffered NCAA penalties during his tenure.
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