One of the best players to never win a championship, Patrick Ewing, was one of the most dominant forces in New York Knicks history.
Patrick Ewing was nothing short of a high school phenom. He didn’t play basketball until 12, as he focused mostly on cricket and soccer in his native country of Jamaica. When you’re as big and athletic as Ewing, however, it’s hard to fit in on the soccer field.
Ewing came to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he simply dominated every single person he played against. He grew to become one of the most highly-touted college recruits of all time. His size, and sheer athleticism made his ceiling as high as the stratosphere.
Every college coach crammed into the small high school gyms he reigned over.
Ewing eventually chose to play Georgetown, despite intense pressure to play at Boston College, or Boston University.
Saying that Ewing’s college career was damn near perfect is an understatement. As a freshman, he led the Hoyas to the championship game, which they lost to North Carolina. Michael Jordan hit “The Shot” and the Hoyas went home hungry.
His sophomore season was not anything to write home about. But his junior year season—that’s where Ewing hit his stride. He collected Big East Player of the Year, defeated the Kentucky Wildcats, who never seemed to lose in the Final Four.
The Hoyas then defeated the Houston Cougars, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, securing their first NCAA championship in school history.
His senior year was arguably the most dominant for Georgetown. They were No. 1 throughout the year, and Ewing won Big East Player of the Year again. No one could stop this guy!
They pranced their way to the National Championship, against Villanova. The biggest upset in NCAA history (before No. 16 UMBC clobbered No. 1 Virginia this year).
Ewing received Naismith Player of the Year at the end of his senior year.
Ewing’s expectations coming into the league were insurmountable. People were heralding the next era of basketball, “The Ewing Era.” In 1985, the NBA Draft switched to the lottery system.
One of the more notable scandals happened during the draft, as then commissioner, David Stern, delayed the envelope.
Ewing had a great rookie year, averaging 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game, winning Rookie of Year. After this, he was thrust into the upper echelon of the NBA. He went on to make 11 All-Star Game appearances, and seven All-NBA selections.
He played an integral part on the Dream Team in 1992. As so, Ewing is a two-time inductee into the Hall of Fame; once with the Dream Team, once with the Knicks.
Michael Jordan and his Bulls teams constantly overshadowed Ewing. In 1992, during the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Knicks squared off against the Bulls. Ewing was so incredible, despite nursing an injury.
Marv Albert called his performance “Willis Reed-esque.” The Knicks ended up losing the series, but the impact was felt.
The Eastern Conference was wide open when Jordan “retired” for two seasons. In 1994, the Knicks finally made it to the Finals, despite an exceedingly difficult road there. Two back-to-back series that went seven games, just to land the Rockets in the Finals.
Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets were too much to handle, but the statement was again made.
A gruesome wrist injury derailed the rest of Ewing’s career. Going up for a dunk, he came down awkwardly on his wrist. He was never the same. After the Knicks, he had extremely weird stints with Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic.
Outside of basketball, before and during his pro careers, Ewing faced an incredible amount of racism.
I hate to say it, but my Alma Mater, Syracuse University, was a prime perpetrator in these racist acts. Ewing’s adversity deserves its own post, and I will definitely write the history of it in a separate piece.
For now, we thank Patrick Ewing for being the face of the New York Knicks.