Indiana Hoosiers basketball legend Bobby Knight has thrown his support behind Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Introducing Trump at a rally in Indianapolis on Wednesday night, the notoriously ill-tempered coach claimed “there has never been a more honest politician” than the presumed GOP nominee.
Fresh off a clean sweep of victories in New England on Tuesday, Trump is now looking to solidify his lead in Indiana, where Republican voters will go to the polls on May 3.
At present, analysts at RealClearPolitics place Trump just 6.3 points ahead of closest rival Ted Cruz in next week’s primary. Ohio Governor John Kasich trails by an estimated 20 points.
Yet, according to the ever-outspoken Knight, voters would do well to extend a huge vote of confidence in Donald Trump.
“If you people will do this, if you will do this, you will be having our government take its first step toward what all of us want America to be like,” Knight told supporters on Wednesday.
The basketball coach then went on to argue that widespread criticism of Trump was misguided, adding he believed Trump ultimately had the ability to become one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.
“They talk in a negative way when they want to about Donald, and say he isn’t presidential,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell that means. To me, I think of Harry Truman, they said Harry Truman wasn’t presidential. And damn he went on to be one of the three best presidents in U.S. history. [Trump] will at some point be one of those also.”
Bobby Knight hasn’t been without his own negative controversies.
Knight was charged and convicted in absentia of assaulting a police officer during the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico, has been repeatedly accused of manhandling players and fans, and infamously threw a chair across the basketball court during a heated game in 1985.
In 2000, Knight was fired from his job at Indiana University after a series of verbal attacks on a female university official and accusations that he attempted to choke a former player.
In hindsight, these aggressive patterns of behavior have somewhat overshadowed Knight’s hugely successful career at Indiana. Not only did he set a record for wins, but Knight led the Hoosiers to three NCAA championships. He was consequently named Big Ten Coach of the Year eight times and also enjoyed stints coaching the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team, Texas Tech, and the U.S. Army.
Speaking to fans in Indianapolis on Wednesday, the 75-year-old Knight attempted to draw from his own support base in order to bolster Trump’s chances in next week’s primary contest.
“You folks are taking a look at the most prepared man in history to step in as president of the United States,” Knight said of Trump. “I’m not here to represent the Republican Party or any organization that deals with politics. I think the most important thing in the world is that we vote for the best man for the job, and you’ve already met him.”
Knight went on to add that there had never “been a more honest politician than Donald Trump,” and he begged fans to push the real estate mogul’s campaign momentum “over the top” by voting for him on Tuesday.
Trump isn’t the only GOP candidate attempting to capture the support of Indiana basketball fans.
Earlier this week, Texas Senator Ted Cruz held a rally in the gymnasium made famous by the 1986 film Hoosiers. Cruz attempted to capture the hearts of Indiana locals by recreating an iconic scene from the film, yet the gesture was undercut by a gaffe that saw Cruz refer to the hoop as a “basketball ring.”
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]