Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Ewing Retires an Unsung Warrior

Georgetown’s second-most famous alumnus is returning home.

On Tuesday, while Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) sat back in his Harlem office, Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85), a couple of blocks downtown, finally called it quits on after an illustrious 17-year career and announced that he was going to be the new assistant coach for the Washington Wizards.

After embarrassing stints with the Seattle Supersonics and the Orlando Magic, Ewing kissed goodbye the dream of winning the elusive NBA championship -a dream he had fought so hard for while he was with the New York Knicks.

Ewing’s career is unquestionably the greatest in New York Knicks history, and he has every right to be one of the top 50 greatest basketball players. He earned Rookie of the Year honors, went to the All-Star game 11 times, won two Olympic gold medals and most importantly brought basketball excitement back to New York for almost two decades.

Perhaps even more outstanding were the 13-straight playoff appearances and the seven years of sold-out Knicks games at Madison Square Garden, none of which could have been done without Ewing. Nothing illuminates the impact of Ewing more obviously than the present state of the New York Knicks.

Now there are no more sold-out crowds at MSG. Spike Lee has fled to the New Jersey swamps to watch the Nets. And there was no sadder team to watch last year than the Knickerbockers.

Unfortunately, throughout his pro-playing career, there was no basketball player who was criticized as much as he was praised than Patrick Ewing.

As a Nets fan who attended high school in New York, I was in a tiny minority of basketball followers who risked their lives talking trash about the Knicks. Yet whenever the Knicks were discussed, Ewing of all players would always be the first person to be blamed for his team’s playoff futility. Whether it was the early ’90s flattop hairdo, the volleyball kneepads or his awkward fade-away jumper, there was always a reason to blame the Knicks’ shortcomings on No. 33.

No matter the cast of characters around him during his 15 years with the Knicks, Ewing could never escape the inevitable criticism that followed him ever since he became the No. 1 draft pick of the 1985 NBA Draft.

Looking back, it seems so unfair that Ewing should carry the failures and burden of the New York Knicks on his back. You can blame John Starks for the 1994 Finals loss against the Rockets. Or you can could blame bad knees for Ewing’s lack of speed and jumping ability as the years went on. But blaming Ewing’s heart and soul is totally uncalled for.

If there were a tragic flaw to Ewing’s career, it was his unending desire to win just one championship. Unlike the success that came so easy here on the Hilltop, Ewing’s stay in New York was full of as much frustrations as there were wins. When he realized his chances of winning in New York were slim, he frantically wandered to Seattle and Orlando in a race against father time. But you cannot blame someone whose heart is bigger than his deteriorated skills.

Sadly, Ewing will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to never win a championship. Like Charles Barkley, Ewing had the bad luck of playing during the Michael Jordan Era. In addition, the hype that accompanied his arrival to New York is something that not even Jordan had to deal with. Every missed shot, injury and loss was so much more magnified because he played in New York.

Who can therefore blame him for coming back to where the legend was made? Despite all that will be said about Ewing in the pro ranks, no one can ever take away what he did at Georgetown. It is Ewing who put the Hoyas officially on the national map and led them to their only NCAA Championship. He, along with John Thompson, helped create an almost mythical aura at Georgetown that helped bring in star recruits throughout the late ’80s and ’90s.

Ewing never forgot his college roots, and every summer, he could be seen practicing and providing advice to fellow Hoya big men like Dikembe Mutumbo (FLL ’91) and Alonzo Mourning (CAS ’92) among others in McDonough. He never let the riches and fame of the NBA tarnish the legacy he had left at Georgetown.

Now, Ewing will embark on a coaching career in Washington where he is loved and respected. There are good memories of Ewing’s four-year career with the Hoyas, memories of which we current Hoyas long for. While his coaching skills are untapped, Ewing has chosen to test them out in a place where he feels comfortable.

One thing is for sure though; as good as he’s looked in the blue and orange uniform of the Knicks, he has never forgotten the blue and gray.

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