INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indiana University basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Bob Knight made waves earlier this month when he put a substantial stash of memorabilia, including his national championship rings, up for auction.
Knight is auctioning dozens of items from his hall of fame career. RTV6's Brad Brown got an exclusive first look at Knight's collection, viewing it in the vault of the auction house, Steiner Sports in New York.
A nondescript office about 40 minutes outside Manhattan houses Steiner Sports. For sports memorabilia collectors, it's the center of the universe.
The office walls are adorned with the autographs of MVPs, champions, hall of famers and sports legends.
The basement holds a $20 million treasure trove collection of balls, bats, game-worn uniforms, old pieces of mighty stadiums and other items, all ready to be shipped around the world.
Knight's collection was a significant addition. For his entire career, Knight saved just about everything, and now he wants to part with much of it.
"We had stuff in boxes and drawers, one thing and another," he said. "I thought we ought to turn this stuff into good. Maybe we can do some stuff with it and in the process help some people."
Brett Schissler, a New York native, 2002 IU graduate and dedicated alumnus, is executive vice-president at Steiner and one of the brains behind the company's Knight Collection auction.
"It was just a perfect opportunity. I looked at this Bob Knight collection and I said, 'Wow, this is great platform that we can utilize to kind of showcase and bring back a lot of the great memories," Schissler said.
Steve Costello led the Steiner team to Knight's house in Lubbock, Texas this summer. Costello and team spent nearly a week going through hundreds of boxes.
"There were just so many things from a memorabilia standpoint," Costello said. "There were so many one-of-a-kind things that it was almost overwhelming," Costello said.
Costello and others pored through a half-century of basketball history, hundreds of photos, dozens of trophies and many mementos connected to some of the most historic days in IU basketball history.
The collection includes the game ball from the 1981 national championship game, the box score from the 1984 NCAA Tournament regional win over North Carolina, the final college game for Michael Jordan, the honorary gold medal after winning with Team USA at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
In all, more than 600 items from Knight's collection are deep within the warehouse at Steiner Sports, compiling more than 50 years of the former IU coach's history as a player and a coach, from Army to Indiana to his time at Texas Tech.
The items getting the most interest from bidders are the crown jewels of the Knight collection -- his championship rings.
Each of the rings is expected to fetch bids reaching into five figures.
"We're talking about a person that's lived an extremely full, vibrant life. He's not one to waste a lot of time. He was very active," said Brandon Steiner, founder of Steiner Sports. "His collection and everything we found really was a reflection of that."
"I never looked at it as a collection of anything. It was just things I happen to have been given because of some accomplishment," Knight said. "I'd be just as happy today if I'd never been given anything."
The red sweater was a Knight signature. He was given dozens of them over the years. Part of Knight's old wardrobe is part of the collection.
Steiner hopes bidders will grab pieces of Knight's history, from his first days as a private at West Point, to his Hall of Fame induction to the end of an iconic career.
"What a great platform and the opportunity to showcase with his fans, the IU alumni and just basketball fans across the board, this great collection," Schissler said.
"I was humbled by it, truly humbled by how gracious a person he was, how intelligent he was," Costello said. "You left there knowing why he won 900 games and why he cared deeply about his students."
"It's amazing the diversity of people that have come through Knight's life and truly a blessing to be able to share it with the fans," Steiner said.
The Steiner Sports team is planning another trip to Lubbock. Knight has more than 1,000 books, all signed and personalized by the authors. Some of them may soon be up for auction.
Bidding for current items continues online through Dec. 5.