Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley is not backing down of his criticism of Patrick Ewing in comparison to Michael Jordan.
With the NBA shuddered due to the coronavirus pandemic, and everyone watching ESPN/Netflix’s The Last Dance documentary on Michale Jordan‘s Bulls teams from the nineties, one of their toughest opponents, the New York Knicks, have come back in the headlines, particularly Patrick Ewing, who his former teammate Charles Oakley has criticized for not leading the team past Jordan in the playoffs.
The Knicks faced the Bulls with Jordan in the lineup during the playoffs five times, and came up short in each match-up. The only time New York advanced in the postseason past Chicago was when they met in 1994, as Michael Jordan was learning how to hit a curveball.
A few weeks back, Oakley blamed Ewing for the Knicks’ failure to beat Jordan, citing his inability to pass out of double teams.
“Patrick, at the end of the game, he’d get double-teamed,’’ Oakley told the New York Post. “He’d shoot fadeaways on double-teams and that hurt us as a team.”
Ewing has decided to take the high road in responding to Oakley’s comments, saying he still loves him as a teammate and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
Oakley was asked if he stood behind his original comments on a recent KFC Radio show, and the rugged forward stood firm.
“I said what I said,” Oakley said through a poor phone connection on Barstool Radio last week.
It is difficult to hear the first part of Oakley’s answer, but it appears he says that he wasn’t trying to say Ewing was a bad player, but he isn’t on the level of Michael Jordan.
When the host, who is a Knicks fan, double downed on his question, asking why Oakley was picking on a player who averaged impressive numbers in the playoffs against the Bulls, Oakley responded by focusing on Jordan’s leadership.
“People look into numbers, on guys averaging 20-30 points,” Oakley said. “It ain’t about just getting points. It’s about leadership. Michael Jordan, being a leader, got guys to buy in. You have to do things more in basketball, score points, rebound, team leader on the floor, off the floor, adversity. I don’t think Patrick Ewing can handle adversity like Michael Jordan, LeBron, Magic. He’s not that type of player. So my thing is, for us, in New York, we had toughness, but he wasn’t a leader to bring those things out. It’s like making a cake or something. It look good, but if you don’t put the butter and the sugar in it, it’s not going to taste good.”
Ewing and Oakley were teammates for ten seasons in New York, coming within one game of an NBA championship in 1994.
“There’s a lot of things people seen what happened in the Garden, and never say nothing. I said stuff,” Oakley said. “Stuff was said back then. Mason said stuff, I said stuff, Chris Childs said stuff. A lot of people said stuff. But they scared to talk now. So it is what it is.”
The host asked Oakley if there is bad blood between the former teammates, and Oakley responded that he doesn’t know where their relationship stands. The power forward, who built a friendship with Jordan when they played together early in his career, claims his opinion on Ewing has always been the same, but it never came up before now.
“I played with Patrick for ten years, I seen a lot of weakness. It is what it is,” Oakley said. “People want to say, ‘He had a 23 and 10 career.’ It’s not about just scoring points. I mean, we gave him the ball 25 times a game, he should score.”
Just like on the basketball court, it is clear the Oak Man doesn’t back down. He is standing behind his criticism of Ewing.
Oakley also talked about the Knicks losing to the Miami Heat in 1997, saying “no doubt” the series would have ended differently had the fight and suspensions not happened. His appearance on the radio show marked the 23rd anniversary of the infamous PJ Brown-Charlie Ward fight that led several key Knicks players to leave the bench and get suspended.