Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Ex Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy says some people have forgotten just how good Patrick Ewing was.
Here's Van Gundy talking about Ewing during an interview with Chris Russo and Mad Dog Sports Radio:
"I think we have amnesia, sometimes, as Knick people, just to how good Ewing was and how well he played. If you're going to be compared to Jordan, then everybody's going to come up short. But if you're compared to a level of greatness?
"I went back and watched the games and looked at the stats because it was intriguing to me, from other people's recollection, 'I was like, this guy is unbelievable.' Even back then, how people try to portray Patrick as not coming through in the clutch. And I'm like, 'Hold on, I was there at every game. I remember this guy carrying us on a nightly basis.'
"And if you just start scrolling through YouTube, it's one (great) game after another. I was talking to my brother (Stan Van Gundy) before you called. And I was (saying), 'This guy (Ewing) had 46 (points) in Atlanta, and I didn't remember it at all. I think it was in 1993. That's how you know you're great. When a guy gets 46 (and you don't remember it). He didn't just come through once in a while where you would remember it. He was coming through with big games all of the time and they sort of start fading from your memory. And it's been great to sort of go back and look, as people have talked about these series, because when I look and I watch, and then I look at the box scores, this guy absolutely carried us. We had a lot of other really good players, but this guy? Man. We were so blessed to have a Ewing in his prime."
Ewing's Knicks teams won at least 50 games seven times and reached two NBA Finals in his 15-year tenure.
Ewing's reputation, in the eyes of some, is tarnished because he never won a title in New York. Former teammate Charles Oakley has criticized Ewing in recent interviews for his approach as a teammate and for the Knicks' lack of success under Ewing
Van Gundy was asked about Oakley's criticism during the interview, per Daily Knicks.
"It's not just Charles," Van Gundy said. "It's how people, even back then, how people try to portray Ewing as not coming through in the clutch."
Van Gundy, who could be a candidate for the Knicks' head coaching vacancy if the club doesn't retain Mike Miller, also spoke fondly of the teams he coached as an assistant and head coach (1989-2002).
"Certainly you're disappointed," Van Gundy said when asked about the Knicks losing to the Bulls in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. "But the one thing I would say, the disappointment isn't in the team or the group or the effort. Because the Knicks teams of the 90s -- that continuous group that had some changes along the way -- the one thing you could count on was professionalism, playing incredibly hard, practicing like champions and giving of themselves to the group.
"So I was disappointed in the results but I was never disappointed when I coached that group both as an assistant and a head coach -- never disappointed in the effort. They gave everything they had to the cause and, really, what more can you do besides that?"
Van Gundy's comments about the Knicks' approach during that time are echoed by Jeff Nix, an assistant coach with many of those teams. New York has won just one playoff series since Van Gundy departed in 2001.