Born in Kingston, Jamaica, 1962, Patrick Ewing could play soccer and cricket well. But as he moved to the United States at the age of 13 as he recalls, he knew he could it make it big if he kept dreaming. And as history shows, he never stopped dreaming.
Being born in Jamaica, and moving to the United States of America, having the accent and being black, at the time, made him a target as he was getting better and better. Patrick was naturally a very tall and strong kid.
Even in the seventh grade he stood 6’1. That’s when his basketball game started evolving. Thanks to his discipline and hard working habits, he could rapidly improve his basketball skills.
He went to Georgetown University and excelled as one of the best college players of all time. Coaches and teammates just knew that when Patrick would get on the court, he’d give his all no matter what.
In the 1982 NCAA finals against the University of North Carolina, Patrick was so close to winning a title but that’s when Fred Brown threw a bad pass to James Worthy. Previously Michael Jordan started his clutch shots with that game. With only 14 seconds remaining he nailed his first big shot which was the start of many buzzer beaters. However, as a college player, Patrick he was the 16th best ever by ESPN.
And all that was earned. He was taught by his mother that if you want something you have to work. She died in 1983 at the age of 55. After that he didn’t feel like doing anything. He didn’t want to go to school or play ball but he also knew that his mother would’ve wanted him to continue to pursue his goal and keep playing basketball.
On the court, he was able to channel his emotions with the basket. There isn’t any other way. It didn’t come easy for Patrick. Being so taller than everyone, he was getting into fights with opponents. There was so much tension and WILL to excel and the only way he could release that tension was through basketball.
College players who were going against him admit that his was frightening.. You just couldn’t play at the level that you know you can when Patrick Ewing is in front of you.
Patrick Ewing was the first pick of the 1985 NBA draft and New York had that first pick. Playing for the New York Knicks was where he actually wanted to end up. He once said.. “I felt that, in order for me to grow up as a person, I have to get away from home”. Although he won the Rookie of the Year Award, he had number of injuries. Opponents were compelled to play tough against him because he was tough.
In the NBA he had a great impact. At first, the fans were disappointed because they were expecting too much of him. Due to the fact that he was injured and he was still adopting to the NBA, he could deliver what fans wanted him too. But Ewing’s confidence wasn’t shaken. When people asked him how was he feeling he said, he was doing fine. Even though he was avoiding the media as much as he could.
In 1992 he was chosen to play in the real Dream Team for the Olympic gold which he won together with the greatest basketball players in the world. In that same year, during the playoffs, he confronted Michael Jordan and the bulls for the NBA title. In game one he scored 34 points, added 16 rebounds and blocked 6shots. Game six was, according to many his greatest game in his career.
He was limited with a bad ankle sprain and went to the bench. But as he remembers he couldn’t just sit there and watch so he approached the court. His teammates were amazed. When John Starks (his teammate) saw that he said to him.. “They can’t stop you. They can’t stop you”. That gave mutual emotional fuel for both Patrick and his teammates.
The fact that he could play despite that pain and score points on top of that, gave his teammates psychological advantage as Mark Jackson recalls. They won game 6 alright, but ultimately they were eliminated in game 7. In the following season, which was even better one for the Knicks (the regular season), they were stopped again by the Chicago Bulls. In 1994 they were stopped by Hakeem Olajuwon’s and the Houston Rockets.
Patrick Ewing left the Knicks in 2000 to play for the Seattle Supersonics and in 2001 he joined Orland Magic. In 2002 he retires from the game of basketball and finished his brilliant basketball career.
Pat Riley once said that he’s had the privilege to coach a lot of great players but no one has ever worked as hard as Patrick Ewing.