Best Season as a Knick: 1989-90- 28.6 PPG, .551 FG%, .775 FT%, 10.9 Rebounds, 4.0 Blocks- 1st Team All-NBA
Patrick Ewing changed the Knick franchise when he was drafted in 1985. He gave the Knicks 15 years of quality playoff baseball. Before each season, you could almost guarantee 50 wins and a trip to the second round. There were many years where it was even better than that, but never the big one.
I truly believe Patrick Ewing would be number 1 on this list if he led the Knicks to the NBA title. Unfortunately, he never did, so he is only number 2. Despite not being number 1, I think he was the most valuable player in franchise history. He became the face of the franchise the first day he was drafted and was given ungodly expectations. People thought he was going to be Bill Russell. That is a lot of pressure.
Additionally, Ewing never had the supporting cast to get him over the top to win a championship. Who were the other great players that he played with? John Starks? Charles Oakley? Allan Houston? All exceptionally good players, but none were great. In NBA history most teams that win titles had at least two great players. Jordan had Pippen, Magic had Kareem. Malone had Stockton and the Jazz never won a title.
What hurts Ewing most in his championship quest was the Knicks losing to Houston in 1994. The Knicks were the better team, and despite not having home court, should have won that series. They were up 3-2 in the series and could not get the job done. A key reason why they did not win was because Hakeem Olajuwon out played Ewing. We know how marvellous Olajuwon was, but at that time we probably did not know just how great he was. He was a better player than Ewing, but I am sure most Knick fans at the time thought Ewing was the superior player. Olajuwon dominated Ewing in the series, leading the Rockets to the title and a NBA Finals MVP. Ewing was ok in the series, but was clearly inferior compared to Olajuwon. Olajuwon did not have any star players in his supporting case either, and if you are objective about it, Ewing probably had the better supporting cast.
In his later years, Ewing was given better talent with Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, and even Marcus Camby and Latrell Sprewell. I thought the Knicks best team in those years was the one that lost to Miami the leaving the bench series. We will all remember Ewing strolling around off the bench during the Charlie Ward/PJ Brown fight, causing him to get suspended for game six. The Knicks were up 3-1, but blew it to the Heat in a terribly disappointing 7 game series defeat. I am not saying that would have beat the Bulls, but it would have been nice to see that match up.
When the Knicks made the Finals vs. the Spurs, Ewing did not play in the series. That entire year he was injured and aging, so you truly can’t blame him for what occurred.
Ewing was never fully appreciated by the Knick fans during his career. They gave him a hard time because he never won a title and had moments where he came up short, but overall it was a phenomenal career. I think the fans actually appreciate him more now than when he was playing. After he was gone, it all went downhill for the Knicks extremely quickly. The team was awful and people missed Ewing, and finally realized just how good he was and how valuable he was to the franchise. It is a shame that he never won a title because he truly was a New York icon.
By Rob Bonanni