Hoya Saxa, Patrick!
by Jed Tai
After a long and prosperous career in the NBA, he’s calling it quits.
Patrick Ewing is moving from the court to the sidelines.
Everyone will have their own way of looking back on Ewing’s basketball legacy. But while the New York media will malign him for failing to “deliver” and the NBA fan will probably remember him as one who couldn’t win the “big one”, college basketball aficionados will remember Ewing for who he really was.
A legend and a champion.
Put aside the 17-year, stellar, hall-of-fame NBA career aside for a moment. Patrick Ewing was one of the best college basketball players of all-time. A quick look at his individual accomplishments at Georgetown from 1981-82 to 1984-85 exhibits a resume of supreme excellence:
However impressive the above list is, mere numbers and accomplishments don’t tell the whole story of Patrick Ewing’s impact on the college game. Ever since he first set foot on the court as a freshman at Georgetown, you could sense greatness right away. He was as dominant a big man defensively as anyone had ever seen. His mere presence in the paint stirred fear into the eyes of opponents. You didn’t dare drive the paint on “St. Patrick”, lest you get your shot swatted away into the high heavens. A tireless worker and warrior, it was he who was the cornerstone of arguably one of the most fearsome teams in college basketball history. And while John Thompson was no doubt the head of the Hoyas, Georgetown – and in many ways the Big East – owed its mystique to Patrick Ewing in the 1980’s.
And what about that championship one might ask? Ewing has one. He could easily show you the NCAA championship ring he earned in 1984, a tournament in which he bested another all-time great center in the title game, bringing home MVP honors. And if it weren’t for an errant Fred Brown pass one year and an unreal shooting performance in another, Ewing would have been a three-time NCAA tournament winner. He was that close. Add in three Big East championships and 121 victories and you’re talking about one of the greatest winners of all-time on the collegiate level.
Ewing probably could have gone pro at any point during his college career and have been the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. But he stayed in school all four years – something unheard of in today’s game. And he didn’t simply complete his eligibility – he left Georgetown with a degree in hand. You can’t do much better than that.
It was Ewing’s dominance that seemingly led the NBA to adopt a lottery system for their draft. He was the grand prize that everyone wanted. The future; the #1 selection. And after 24,815 points and 11,606 rebounds, 11 All-Star game appearances, two Olympic Gold Medals, and an honor among the NBA’s Top 50 greats, he certainly delivered.
Thanks Patrick, for all the memories. The game will miss you.