Q&A: Bobby Knight

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Head coach Bob Knight of the Texas Tech Red Raiders talks with his team during the Semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament.

Only one day removed from becoming the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men's basketball history, Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight is right back to business as usual. Sure, he fielded a call of congratulations from Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland — as well as from scores of his former players, but he spent most of the day watching film of his Red Raiders eking out a victory over New Mexico on Monday. And he's been watching film of Oklahoma, Texas Tech's next opponent. He took time out from watching film, holding practice, and a January round of golf to speak with TIME's Adam Pitluk.

TIME: Eight hundred and eighty wins: What motivates you to come out night after night, season after season, and keep the same intensity?

KNIGHT: I like the game, I always have, really. I liked it as a player, I enjoyed having the opportunity to coach it. It's a game that tests your abilities to see or improvise or adjust or maintain all of those things. And I've enjoyed the opportunity to work with kids. Hopefully, I've helped them become better prepared for whatever's in store for them.

TIME: How has your coaching style changed since your days at West Point? Or has it?

KNIGHT: I don't think it's changed. We do different things on offense or defense. In terms of teaching the game, it's very similar to what it was way back when. When I first started, there were things I thought were really important in the game: the approach; reading defense when you're on offense; handling the basketball; good shot selection. The same things are still just as important.

TIME: Any favorites in those 880 wins?

KNIGHT: I don't think so. I got a lot of favorite losses. Just trying to play well. For me, the best answer is the games we played best over the longest period of time.

TIME: What are your favorite losses then?

KNIGHT: There are a lot of losses. When you've coached this long, you have a lot of "what ifs."

TIME: You and [former North Carolina coach] Dean Smith [whose victories record Knight just surpassed] spoke last week. What was that conversation like?

KNIGHT: We just talked about basketball and what was important to us over the years. I really appreciated it. I really appreciate the opportunity for Dean and I to be kind of connected — kind of aligned together in this kind of thing because we've both had the same objective, just different means of getting that objective. His call was a real compliment to me: A real compliment to me to be involved with him. When we played against each other, we were in a good game and we knew our players were playing against good kids. There was a good relationship between our players. But if I'd have wanted all you guys in the press to know everything that was said between us, then I'd have had you on — what is it called — a conference call.

TIME: How has your relationship with your players changed over the years?

KNIGHT: I don't know. I'm sure the past players would say that I'm a lot more tolerant with these guys than I was with them. I don't think I'm any different. I don't think I have changed much in my approach. I made the comment yesterday that my all-time favorite song is Sinatra's "My Way." I devised a way of teaching basketball and I never worried if anyone agreed or disagreed with it. It was what I thought was the best way to do it. I look back on it and think it's been a good one.

TIME: In 2007, when the world is becoming ever more politically correct, has your old-school coaching style become old-fashioned?

KNIGHT: I'm sure it's old-fashioned. So is ice cream, but that's still pretty good.

TIME: Before you came to Texas Tech, the media reported that you'd have a hard time getting good recruits to West Texas. Has it been a challenge?

KNIGHT: We've won about twop thirds of the games that we've played since we've been out here. Been in the postseason tournament four out of five years that we've been here. So I have to think we've been able to get good recruits out here. There are a lot of really good things to what we have here. I can remember coming here and remembering people saying, "You're going way out to West Texas? " Well, my assistant coach and I are going to go play golf when this conversation is over. On the day before New Years Eve, I went pheasant hunting. There are so many things to do out here and so many things that are close. The things that I like and the kind of people that I like are here in abundance. There couldn't be a better place for us.

TIME: Eight hundred and eighty wins is an enormous milestone in any sport, let alone competitive men's NCAA basketball. And you have a few national championship rings. So what else is left for you to accomplish?

KNIGHT: For one, I got to try to beat Oklahoma on Saturday. I've never looked at accomplishments or milestones. I've just always had a great basic enjoyment and affection for the game of basketball.

TIME: What do you want your legacy to be?

KNIGHT: I know what my legacy is. I've never cared what anybody else thought anyway. I'm very happy with what I contributed to the game of basketball. I care when I hear from old players that tell me how I helped them with the game of basketball or how the lessons helped them in life.