A Short Chat With Patrick Ewing

Imagine coming into league and playing on the same team Shaq took to the NBA Finals. Then, after a couple of seasons, mentored by one of the best centers of all time in Patrick Ewing and are now in the Finals yourself.  Not to belabor the point, but this is why I expect a lot out of Dwight. He has a Hall of Fame mind talking and working with him every day. One who has been thrown Chicago and Miami wars…Dream escapes and John Thompson ESPN Classic tapes. All of that wisdom and knowledge is at Dwight’s disposal. As young and bright as Dwight is, he is definitely going to have the opportunity to thrive. Coach Ewing is cool and always has time for me before games. We’ve had some deep chats about basketball history and he was cool to give me 5 minutes of his time here:

Michael Tillery: Coach, do you ever think about getting out there are helping out your protege?

Patrick Ewing: (We laugh) Nah, nah, I’m too old for that.

MT: What can Dwight learn from you? You played in some epic physical battles over the course of your career. Physical play in the NBA has since diminished. Why do you think the league doesn’t let players bang like they used to?

PE: It’s a guard oriented game now. They NBA wants to see the little guys flourish. All the rules seemed geared towards perimeter players and also there’s not a lot of big men. You have Dwight, Yao Ming…Bynum. There’s just not many dominant big men. If you look around the league, most of ones are European and play more of a perimeter game.

MT: Coach I forget from time to time that Dwight is just 23 years old. He gets a lot of criticism because look at the dude. He’s huge and has no peer in the league in strength and arguably athleticism. What has he learned these playoffs? Seems like the elbow to Dalembert and sitting out was a seminal moment in his young career.

PE: It seems they are letting players get away with a lot more. They are beating the hell out of the young man. There letting them get extra hits. They are pushing. They are grabbing and sometimes you get frustrated as a man when this is happening.

In terms of the elbow, he’s gonna have to get them back in other ways (Coach Ewing smiles).

MT: Seems like you’ve worked with him a lot. You can definitely see an improvement in footwork and the seeds of a post game developing. I’ve said it many times the last couple of weeks, but when I look at him, I see a 40/30 player from time to time in this league. If Rodman can get 18 rebounds for an entire season, Dwight can get 30 right now.

PE: You are right about that. Damn right. It’s possible. It’s possible. Physically he’s a man child. He’s so athletically gifted like you said. The sky is the limit for Dwight. He has to continue to learn his profession. He can be the best player in this league.

MT: Jameer Nelson is from my hometown of Chester, PA. I know it’s been difficult for him to watch from the sidelines. As a coach…of course I know you have a job to do during games to keep the players prepared and aware of game situations…but does your mind ever wander back to the times when this was your show?

PE: Naturally. This is the playoffs. These games get the juices flowing. This is when I feel like damn I can get out there and get 20 tonight. In that respect, of course. I’m a competitive person. The marathon season is over. This right here is what you work all season long for. This is the real season. Forget that, I could go out there and get 30 (We laugh)!

MT: Coach, you probably could in this league because of how young the league is. Speaking of which, the league is a lot younger than in decades past obviously because cats are taking advantage of the Spencer Haywood rule. LeBron, Flash and even Dwight are considered veterans way before their conventional prime.

PE: The Europeans are younger also. There are a few older vets. Theo Ratliff…Dikembe Mutombo before he got hurt probably will retire. Tony Battie for us has been around a while. Rashard has been around for how many years?

MT: Uh…11.

PE: Damn, seems like 13 or 14 doesn’t it?

MT: Yup.

PE: So that makes him 29. That’s young. He’s right out of high school. A lot of them are coming out after one year.

MT: Can you do it this year?

PE: Yeah, if we play are game and keep our composure then of course.

MT: Your old franchise. What’s it gonna take for them to get it together.

PE: I don’t know. I stay outta that (smiles).

MT: One last question. (Pause) Damn what was I gonna ask you? You kinda fouled me up with that answer coach. (Pat laughs) Oh! You gonna be a head coach in this league or what?

PE: That’s the game plan. That is definitely my goal.

MT: Good luck coach. Get that shine and raise my Chester young boy right!

PE: You know I will!

5 Responses to “A Short Chat With Patrick Ewing”

  1. Temple3 says:

    Mizzo:

    That was very much appreciated. Well done.

    Patrick was my favorite player for years — principally because of those Georgetown days with Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, Eric Smith, Ed Spriggs, Ralph Dalton, Bill Martin, Michael Jackson (not that one!), Horace Broadnax, Gene Smith, Reggie Williams, Michael Graham, Anthony Jones (before the UNLV bounce), Freddie Brown (it’s still all love), Perry “Mama Said Knock You Out” McDonald, and on and on.

    I remember all of that stuff…the blocked shots to open the game vs. UNC in the SuperDome. Swat, swat! Swat, swat, swat!!! Get that WEAK stuff outta here son!! Even Silent Sam said, “Damn!!”

    It is refreshing to hear people recognize the need for great players to have help in the chase for championships. The New York media and most fans were about 20 years too late in their recognition that Patrick didn’t have the elite offensive help that Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and every other champion had during their title years. (Sir Charles can relate.) Ewing bore the brunt of criticism that probably should have been directed elsewhere. He was always the first, second, third, last and best option on offense. In the playoffs, that a formula for disaster. It is a testament to will and determination that the Knicks did as well as they did during his run.

    The Knicks didn’t have a monster inside-out game because they never had cash money outside shooters. They never had quality bigs who could finish above the rim. It was like management was trying to steal something. They brought in Derek Harper two weeks after his first AARP subscription. Charles Smith came after an injury. Larry Johnson came after an injury. Rolando Blackman gave up a year in Tahiti to help the Knicks. Same with Kiki Vandeweghe. Rory Sparrow? Hubert Davis? Trent Tucker? Troopers, yes. Money? No.

    Oh well, it’s going to have to be enough to be The People’s Champion!

    Given the circles of association, I’m going to have to root for the Magic to pull the upset and snatch victory from the jaws of Tinseltown’s favorites.

    Thanks again.

  2. TC says:

    Thanks for that interview Mizzo. I always appreciated Ewing’s determination. Like Temple says, he never had nearly enough help. It’s not surprising he always looked stressed and under pressure playing for the Knicks. But Pat always did his thing, hitting that mid-range jumper, getting his boards. Always held it down. It annoyed me hearing the criticism directed at him. Like what else you want Pat to do? 30 and 20? 40 and 30? Would the NY media leave him alone then? It was ridiculous. Anyway, I’m always glad to see him now as he looks a little happier and that’s well-deserved. And why not? Working with Dwight Howard would be gratifying for anyone, I would imagine. I can’t say I hope he gets a ring now, but if it wasn’t the Lakers, I’d be pullin’ for him. Again, thanks for catching up with one of the most unfairly maligned players of any time.

  3. MODI says:

    cosign T3 and TC,

    I used to fight the negative criticism on Patrick all the time. I hated that bullshit that he was slowing up the team. Only after he left did everybody recognize the real deal — which is the ONLY good thing to come out of the last 10 years!

    T3, impressive G-Town list! But how are you gonna go ahead and remember Horace Broadnax but forget David Wingate!

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