"...If I had it to do all over again," said Ewing. "I wouldn't have requested a trade."There are many different angles to this story depending on who you talk to. It is true, as mentioned in this very article, that Ewing felt disrespected by the NY media who almost seemed to wait to hammer him for years of being surly towards them. Some writers suggested the FANS thought the Knicks were better off without Ewing.
Who knew that a simple yet firm demand, made in 2000, would still be haunting the Knicks today? The franchise brass certainly didn't. Neither did Ewing, who today serves as an assistant to Stan Van Gundy on the Orlando Magic bench. Speaking before Game 1 of the Magic-Charlotte Bobcats series, Ewing made it clear he still feels bad about leaving New York. In retrospect, the trade of Patrick Ewing caused the same impact as the drafting of Patrick Ewing. Just as the Knicks saw their fortunes soar when former general manager Dave DeBusschere pounded his fist at the draft lottery on the pivotal day that enabled the Knicks to get Ewing, his trade subsequently prompted plenty more clenched fists pounded for altogether different reasons...
In order to trade Ewing, the Knicks had to take Luc Longley and Glen Rice and other lumps of coal; nobody was giving them expiring contracts or talented players for someone who eventually reminded folks of Willie Mays in his final days with the Mets. The Knicks, charging $1,000 for those courtside seats, were in mortal fear of rebuilding in New York, as if their fans wouldn't understand the reasons for it.
So they swung the deal and spent the next 10 years rebuilding..."
In December of 99, Ewing hit a big shot against the Raptors that took the Knicks to 17-10 and 6-1 in his return from injury. But I guess they were better without him. No one can question the decline, but the burial was far too soon.
Throw in the Mark Messier factor as well. The Rangers felt that Messier had gone past his prime and decided not to negotiate all that hard with Mess and his father Doug. That led to the infamous Joe Sakic contract signing, which was matched by the Avalanche. Messier would return for big money, and around the same time, Ewing wouldn't be given an extension. Many had speculated it was the Garden brass' decision to make amends with Messier because he had won a championship.
One more year. Really, just one more year. That's all it would have been.
It didn't take long for fans to realize that even an aging Ewing still made the Knicks a playoff team.
Forget the cap ramifications, that whole situation really left me bitter, considering all that Ewing did in a Knicks jersey. Whether the team was better without him or not. They would have been better with him against the Spurs in the 1999 Finals, that much was obvious.
I know Ewing has to take his share of blame, and reading this makes me feel a bit better. He knows he should have handled things differently. But his emotions, built up by years of coming so close followed by having to hear that he was done and the team should move on without him, I can, always did, understand his frustration.
It's been a long time ladies and gents, here's hoping for a successful new beginning.