In 1985, the New York Knicks selected a player from Georgetown University as their first pick in the first round. Positioning Patrick Ewing at center was a great investment for the Knicks Organization. Ewing injured his knee and sat out 32 games during his rookie year, but even with this setback, he logged 1,771 minutes of playing time during his first season and earned Rookie of the Year honors. This was a feat by no other rookie on the Knicks team since the 1964-65 season, when Willis Reed was named Rookie of the Year. Recovering nicely, Ewing’s total minutes played each season for the Knicks skyrocketed as his career continued. At the end of his fifth season, he had been on the court 3,127 minutes during the season playing a vital role in the outcome of each game that year.
During his time on the court, Patrick Ewing played with great heart and wisdom. Playing smart on both ends of the court resulted in his being at the right place at the right time to get his hands on the ball. Patrick’s rebounding efforts on both ends of the court were a great asset to the team. He snagged 124 offensive rebounds during the 1985-86 season. This number was impressive, but his most impressive playing time that year was on the defensive end of the court. He was able to outplay the competition and come away with the ball 327 times. On top of that, he was able to swat the ball away from the opponent’s goal for a total of 103 blocked shots.
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Patrick Ewing spent a lot of time under the hoop making plays happen. Adapting to the Knicks’ style of play allowed Ewing to shine both on defense as well as on offense. While on the offensive end of the court, he was an outstanding ball handler. He dished the ball to his teammates a total of 102 times in his rookie season alone. In addition to his ball handling abilities, Ewing was also a force to be reckoned with while taking the ball to the hole. He was a consistent scorer. During 13 consecutive seasons, he averaged over 20 points per game. During the 1989-90 season, he achieved his career-high in scoring. He averaged 28.6 points per game. He also placed fifth in rebounding with an average of 10.9 rebounds per game.
Patrick Ewing proved that practice and hard work make a difference. During his days at Georgetown, Ewing’s focus was on defense because Coach John Thompson’s strategy placed him in the role of defender, “the Hoya Destroya”. He succeeded in that role and continued to play top notch defensively for the Knicks after transitioning to the NBA. One of his finest defensive efforts was during the 1994 Championship Series. Patrick Ewing set a record for the most blocked shots during one game. He blocked 27 of his opponents’ shots. During the 1989-90 season, he was second in blocked shots in the league with 3.99 blocks per game. Playing under the guidance of a different coach with a different philosophy and the NBA’s style of play, Patrick’s scoring ability was cultivated and unleashed. He was the Knicks’ highest scorer during the 1993-94 season, the year that they gave the Houston Rockets a run for their money in the NBA Finals. The series was hard fought, but the Knicks lost in the series of seven battles. At the end of his career, he had tallied 24,815 points in the NBA.
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Patrick Ewing and his teammates battled other NBA standout stars: Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. Patrick Ewing and his Knicks teammates were defeated in playoff series five times by Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls teammates. The high standard of play by all involved created thrilling moments for the fans. The 1994 Finals was a fierce battle between Ewing and Olajuwon. Pivotal moments could have easily changed the outcome because the teams were both composed of highly skilled players loaded with skill, grit, and determination. The fans in both venues were treated to high energy well-played games.
Although the championship ring remained elusive, Patrick Ewing’s skill was recognized often throughout his career. He was selected to participate in eleven NBA All-Star Games, ten of which were consecutive appearances, a franchise record for the New York Knickerbockers. Patrick was named the NBA Player of the Month on five occasions during his career with the Knicks. He was bestowed with the title NBA Player -of -the-Week twelve times. Patrick Ewing’s career was never highlighted by a championship win, but he was still by far an exceptional player who made his presence known on the court during an extremely talented era of NBA basketball. Michael Jordan shared his opinion stating, “He has a heart of a champion. When you thought about New York, you thought of Patrick Ewing. He came and gave life back into the city.”
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