Unlike Michael and Hakeem, “Hoya Destroya” did not leave college after three years, though all franchises were awaiting his arrival – even in the legendary ’84 draft, he was considered a safe No.1 pick. However, he had promised his recently deceased mother that he would not turn his back on university without a degree in art history.
In May 1984, with the birth of his first child, Patrick Ewing Jr., an unplanned hurdle was added, but Pat Senior bit his mark and was allowed to throw his square hat into the Washington sky a year later.
When in the first lottery of NBA history the dice or the envelopes – not without conspiracy theories – fell in favor of the Knicks, the election of Ewing as the first pick had long been decided. In a time when the center game dominated the league and a strong Big Man was the cornerstone of success, not only the burden of the top pick on Ewings shoulders. The fans in New York expected the Hoya Destroya deep playoff runs. And title. Not one, but several.
Although Ewing was elected in the following season with an average of 20 points and 9 rebounds for Rookie of the Year and the All-Star Team, the Knicks worsened compared to last year. Without the injured Bernard King and Bill Cartwright, Hubie Brown’s team made just 23 wins. Ewing, who had to play in the NBA without his trademark, the T-shirt under the jersey, missed even 32 games with a knee injury.
After a further season under further ran the patience of the fans in the Big Apple was exhausted – and found the guilty party quickly: the number 33rd But Ewing was not impressed by the criticism of his person nor be carried away to public statements. He stayed away from the media, was aloof. And not only in the bad times. Not always easy for the fans to understand.
Instead, Ewing tried to give the answer on the court. And finally – in the third season of the supposed savior – the Knicks moved back into the playoffs. This was not only due to the development of Big Pat, but also to the wise choice in the draft. The front office decided for a 1.85-meter small playmaker of St. John’s Mark Jackson.
Jackson made the right move, averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 assists and becoming RoY. But more importantly, he clicked with Ewing. The two harmonized on the court almost as well as Stockton and Malone at the same time in Utah.
But just as with Jazz, it did not want to go beyond the conference finals for a long time. Too dominant were the Chicago Bulls with Jordan, who threw Ewing and Co. out of the postseason in four of the next five seasons.
After he had won the title in 1984 with the college boys at the Olympics, Ewing traveled in 1992 as an important part of the dream team to Barcelona. This time on the side of MJ. On the way to Gold Medal No. 2, the rest of the world was impressively demonstrated how the sport is played correctly with the orange ball.
Ewing’s experience with team USA made him mature – and with him his game. “I was just as important and as clever as any guard I played with,” says Big Pat of his role at the Knicks: “It was me who announced the moves, knew the systems and had to watch the opposing concepts. I did everything they had to do. ”
Then she came, the big chance. After the resignation of MJ, the Bulls were beatable – and like many other teams, New York dreamed of title. Spoiler alert: Hakeem Olajuwon had something against it.
In the 1994 finals, the Knicks and the Houston Rockets, who had pulled The Dream in 1984 to position 1, delivered an epic defensive battle over seven games. Ewing put up 18.9 points, 12.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game – but that was not enough for Olajuwon, who was much more efficient.
Even a 3-2 lead was not enough to bring the championship back to New York 21 years after the last ring ceremony. It was Hakeem’s revenge for the lost NCAA final. Only on a slightly larger stage.
Of the conference semifinals, the following year against Reggie Miller’s Pacers Ewing will probably still have nightmares. His finger roll to equalize Game 7 landed on the back of the ring, destroying the second title shot in Jordan’s absence.
The following three years were again the Bulls, even though Ewing delivered despite handicaps by a protracted wrist break his eighth, ninth and tenth All-Star season in series. But there was also a problem. While the game of Knicks basically became more and more athletic, they continued to rely on low-post-Dominator Ewing.
Criticism became loud – the words stubborn and selfish. Ewing himself probably saw no other option in the offense than himself, after all, he had not even been in the same jersey on the court with another Hall of Fame player.
Ewing came to New York as a winner and became the dominant center, the fans had wished. Several times he was very close to the title – but what also has been remembered is the stigma of having failed in crucial situations. The stigma of not wearing a ring on the finger.
Nothing in this world could free him from it. Neither the Knicks, who raised his jersey under the ceiling in 2003, nor the selection for the team of the 50 best players of all time or inclusion in the Hall of Fame. The Ewing era in the Big Apple may have remained unfinished, but its significance for posterity is greater than its blemish – and greater than its role in “Space Jam.”
There are many quotes about the career of Patrick Aloysius Ewing. Best of all, the words of Michael Jordan: “He has the heart of a champion, if you think of New York, you think of Patrick Ewing, he gave the city a new life.”