Knight certainly surprised everyone at Stanford, partly just by matriculating there. The school he really wanted to play for was Seton Hall. Born in Livingston, N.J., Knight starred for Seton Hall Prep. But P.J. Carlesimo, the Seton Hall coach at the time and now coach of the Golden State Warriors, didn't recruit Knight because the Pirates supposedly were already stocked at the point with, among others, Danny Hurley. Stanford was the only school other than Manhattan College to offer Knight a scholarship.
Knight arrived in Palo Alto as a 5'8", 145-pound freshman who was expected to back up a junior college transfer named Frank Harris at the point. But Knight wasted no time showing that he would not be anyone's understudy, immediately grabbing control of the team in practice. He never loosened his grip, and Stanford, 7-23 the year before he arrived, had reached three NCAA tournaments (and one Sweet 16) by the time he was through. During his four years in college Knight added two inches and about 30 pounds and was named a second-team All-America as a senior.
His real breakthrough, though, came the summer before, when he led a team of college all-stars in an exhibition game against Dream Team III before the 1996 Summer Olympics. The game was supposed to be just a tune-up for the pros, but the college stars threw a scare into them by taking a 17-point halftime lead before the NBA players rallied to win. Charles Barkley and David Robinson were among the Dream Teamers who raved about Knight's eight-point, five-assist, four-steal performance.
Knight has been initially underestimated at every level of play because his height is far easier to measure than his confidence or presence. "There's something about him that says you don't want to give him as much of a hard time as you might give some other rookies," says Cleveland forward Danny Ferry. "He seemed like he even had a little chip on his shoulder when he first got here, almost like he was saying, I'm not your typical rook, so don't treat me like one."
Which isn't to say that Knight has been flawless—he forces the occasional pass, and he is not yet a consistent outside shooter—but he has a way of immediately making up for his mistakes. After turning the ball over down the stretch of the Milwaukee game, Knight first penetrated and dished off to Kemp for a dunk that gave Cleveland a two-point lead; then, sneaking up from behind, he poked the ball away from Bucks forward Glenn Robinson and dribbled out the clock to seal the victory.
When the buzzer sounded, the other Cleveland players crowded around Knight, high-fiving him and slapping him on the back. Then, as if to symbolize the Cavaliers' season so far, Knight started to run off the court toward the locker room, and his teammates fell in step behind him.
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