Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's Pat! 33 Things I Remember About Patrick Ewing

The names for induction into the 2008 Basketball Hall of Fame were announced the other day and among the 7 individuals in the Class of '08 was my personal choice for the greatest Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing. From their heartbreaking finals loss to the Rockets in '94 to 2000 when they traded Ewing to Seattle, basketball and the Knicks were the primary sport I followed. The Mets were fairly awful for most of that span, the Islanders wallowed (and to this day still wallow) in mediocrity, and the aging Bills had finally run out of Super Bowl runs. The Knicks were my only constant of excellence. I know it's hard to imagine now but, for those who where there, if you close your eyes and try real hard you'll recall that there was a time when the Knicks were not a nightly embarrassment, but rather a rock solid NBA powerhouse that were almost guaranteed to be a top seeded playoff team and compete for the title every year. This was almost entirely due to the efforts of one seven foot sasquatch of a basketball player, Patrick Ewing.

While my favorite Knick will always be the scrappy, consummate underdog, John Starks; Ewing will always be the best in my book. His style may have been fundamental and lacking in any flair (even when he infrequently dunked it just seemed as interesting as doing taxes) and the defensive minded, slow tempo game of the team as a whole was as sexy as Jeff Van Gundy; but in the end it won games. In those days I could tune into a Knick game and not expect my team to get completely demolished on both ends of the court for another night; I would expect rebounding, defense, competent ball handling, team work, unselfish play, and about 25 points and 12 rebounds from #33. Although Bill Simmons might have you believe otherwise (I'm still waiting for post-Ewing championship, Bill) the Knicks were most definitely a better team with Ewing. No offense to the other Knicks of that era but there is no chance that anyone else from those teams is going into the Hall. There's a reason why Ewing was the lone All-Star nearly every year. Perhaps if he had one more person to compliment his talent like Jordon had Pippen, there'd be a ring or two to go along with his enshrinement.

So in honor of his recent recognition, here are 33 random personal observations of the big man. Note that more than a few of them are not the positive of observations, because to have known and watched Ewing was to have known and watched both fantastic success and crippling failure:
  1. His complete inability to stop Michael Jordon on the college and professional level.
  2. His near complete inability to stop the Pacers.
  3. That relief on his face during that one sweet Jordan-less year during his first retirement.
  4. Chest bumps with Starks, chest bumps with Harper, chest bumps with Oakley, chest bumps all around.
  5. Getting replaced by Herb Williams during blow outs (more of a Herb Williams memory I guess).
  6. Winning like a 100 straight games on NBA Jam with my dynamic duo of Ewing doing flaming somersault dunks and Starks raining 3s.
  7. Suffering that career threatening wrist injury against the Bucks in 1998.
  8. Him watching in stunned awe at the other end of the court as Reggie Miller scores 8 points in 8.9 seconds at the end of the game en route to taking Game of 1 of the 1995 semifinals.
  9. His lack of ability to show any real intensity on the court. Sure he'd smile or if he really got exited raise his arms but if you had a chart of on court intensity with Kevin Garnett being a 10 and a ham sandwich at 1, he'd be around a 3.
  10. Getting his shot blocked by 5'3 (and future Space Jam co-star) Mugsy Bogues.
  11. Shots of him getting the gold medal on the 1992 Dream Team.
  12. His preference for fundamental finger rolls and layups over those overly flashy slam dunks.
  13. Early 90s flattop Ewing, now there was a haircut you could set your watch to.
  14. Failing to set a screen on Olajuwon for Starks in the closing seconds of Game 6.
  15. Almost perfunctory yearly rituals of sweeping the Hawks or Cavs in the first round.
  16. Getting busted at the Gold Club. Apparently there was sex in the champaign room.
  17. His starring role in Space Jam. Why would the aliens steal the talents of five players with a combined "0" championships? The better question is: Does Shawn Bradley even have enough talent to steal?
  18. The sad sight of an injured Ewing sitting on the bench, watching in agony as he is unable to prevent the Spurs from manhandling the Knicks in the 1999 Finals.
  19. That time he made a cameo on "Mad About You"
  20. Ewing vs. Olajuwon for 7 Games in the 1994 finals. Olajuwon was totally better...
  21. How surreal he looked in a Seattle SuperSonics uniform.
  22. How surreal he looked in a Orlando Magic uniform.
  23. The awe at how one human being could be so drenched in sweat so quickly. In many cases was already dripping by the opening tip off.
  24. My dad calling him Mr. Monkey in his broken English, not with any racist intentions but just in the most literal sense. If I had to pick a type of primate I'd go with orangutan.
  25. Making Jeff Van Gundy look even more impish while standing over him, going over a play.
  26. That poster my friend had of him taking a fade away jumper over a young Shaq (which I can't believe is still available at some random online store).
  27. Getting named a member of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time in '96, not too shabby.
  28. That game winning dunk on Mourning in game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat in his final year.
  29. Those extremely balky knees constantly wrapped in ice towards the end of his career.
  30. That missed easy finger roll in the 1995 playoffs in the dwindling seconds of game 7 against the Pacers that could have tied the game. That was my first introduction to the endless cycle of heartbreak that was sports.
  31. Playing through an injury to knock off the Heat in the first round as the 7th seed in 1998.
  32. Playing through an injury to knock off the Heat in the first round as the 8th seed in 1999.
  33. The Garden announcer saying during introductions: "...and at 7 feet from Georgetown...PA-TRICK EWING!!"


  1. Hey dummy, the intensity comment is retarted, what do you think all those chest bumps were all about? Also, he didn't play in the 1998 first round series against Miami - he didn't return from his wrist injury until Game 3 of the second round against Indiana. Get your facts straight. You suck.

  2. Well Jimbo, I didn't title it "33 Facts About Patrick Ewing", it was 33 things I remembered. And as is usually the case with human memories (especially ones from when I was like 13), they are sometimes inaccurate. I could have sworn, be was part of that fight in 1998, but I stand corrected.

    As for chest bumps; passively standing around like a totem pole while your teammates take turns chest bumping you is hardly a show of intensity.