Twelve days ago, shortly after his team pulled out a dramatic overtime win in the semifinals of the inaugural Ivy League basketball tournament, Princeton Coach Mitch Henderson was waiting to be called to the podium when he caught my eye.

I waved and mouthed, “Congratulations.” He nodded, then urgently waved me over. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted, but thought he might want to share something that would help my column. I walked over and we shook hands.

“So what’s the deal with your guy Knight?” he asked.

A little more than 24 hours earlier, Bob Knight had told Dan Patrick during a radio interview that he wished all the people who had been in charge at Indiana when he was fired had died or would die soon.

I’ve been asked the same question countless times.

The first person to tell me about Knight’s remarkably tasteless comment was Dan Dakich, who played for Knight, then coached under him for 16 years. That means he saw him in action for 20 years, which should make him just about impervious to even the most senseless of Knight’s outbursts.

And yet, when I walked toward the media seating for the Big Ten quarterfinals, Dakich almost tackled me.

“Did you hear what Knight said?” Dakich asked.

I rolled my eyes. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure why anyone cares what Knight says about anything – whether it’s Donald Trump or Indiana basketball or that team from the SEC. He’s a bitter, angry 76-year-old man who has never really enjoyed anything in life other than getting the last word.

Dakich had the interview transcript in his phone. He showed me the relevant passage.

“I wish I could say it’s unbelievable,” I said finally, “but, knowing Knight, it’s not.”

I haven’t been around Knight on a regular basis since the long winter of 1985-86 I spent with him in Bloomington, reporting what would become “A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers.” He didn’t speak to me for eight years after that – remarkably because he was upset that I included a tiny fraction of his voluminous profanity.

I owe Knight a debt I can never repay. The access he gave me that season was complete and absolute. He never backed away. The book’s success is largely due to that access and to Knight being such a fascinating, dichotomous figure.

I knew when I sent Knight an advance copy that his response wasn’t going to be, “Hey John, great job.” That’s not who he is: He wants everyone in his life on the defensive, backpedaling, intimidated. As he once said to Steve Alford, “Steve, I’m never going to talk to you about your shooting because I know you can shoot. But your defense (stinks) and that’s what you’re going to hear about from me.”

What’s sad about Knight is he pushes away those close to him. He and Mike Krzyzewski didn’t talk for 10 years – until Krzyzewski called and said, “Coach, I wouldn’t be going into the Hall of Fame if I hadn’t played and coached for you. You’re the only person who should give my induction speech.”

Even Knight couldn’t resist.

But he could resist phone calls from members of his 1976 team, the last team to go undefeated in college basketball. Several called to plead with him to return last year for a 40th anniversary celebration at Indiana. No way, Knight said, was he ever returning. So he didn’t go. Guess who suffered the most? Robert M. Knight.

That was when Dakich decided he finally was done with him. The 1976 team “made him,” he said. “They put him in a unique place, and they put up with all his BS to do it. Forget any grudges against Indiana – which are silly at this point – he owed it to them to be there.”

Knight’s not going back to Indiana. He has gone to Purdue – to again make his point about Indiana – just as he made a point of letting the world know he spent time with Dean Smith in Chapel Hill in the summer of 1992 but never called Krzyzewski because Krzyzewski beat him in the Final Four that spring.

After Knight retired from Texas Tech in mid-season in 2008, he was hired with much fanfare by ESPN. The network wanted him to be a star. Knight wanted to be a star but didn’t want to do the things TV analysts are asked to do: show up for production meetings; go to shoot-arounds; talk to coaches about their teams. It was beneath him. Bob Knight asking a coach for a few minutes of his time?

No way.

And so, ESPN slowly moved him down the announcing ladder before finally giving up and firing him two years ago. Now Knight is back in Lubbock, hunting and fishing, virtually alone.

Every once in a while, someone gives him a chance to show up in public: Trump last summer, Patrick two weeks ago. Knight does it because he’s still trying to get in the last word.

The court at Indiana should have his name on it. He should return to the cheers of the multitudes. He should enjoy everything he accomplished in coaching and revel in the relationships he built.

Instead, he goes on the radio and wishes people dead. He can’t help himself. He’s still trying to have the last word when it came and went years ago.

All of which is almost unbearably sad for anyone whose life he touched – mine among them. Many will say, “It’s just Knight being Knight.”

That’s the saddest thing of all.