“That’s embarrassing,” Oakley said. “How can you offer Patrick a D-League coaching job? I think it’s embarrassing. No matter what a person did to you or whatever over the years, his agent or somebody. “That’s Kindergarten. This man has been the coach for 10 years and you’re going to offer him a Kindergarten job. Totally disrespectful. Then you’re going to hire a guy, LaSalle Thompson, that had nothing to do with the Knicks.”Charles Oakly via New York Daily News
I know what you're thinking, "Oh God, this whole thing again!?"
Yes, this thing. Now, let me say I don't totally agree with the Oak man here, although please no one tell him. While I do like him sticking up for Patrick, I don't think the Knicks "owed" Ewing an assistant job. I don't think it was "insulting" that they asked him to be the head coach of the D-League team, where he could have earned his bones as an actual head coach and maybe improved his reputation around the league, and I think Patrick could have taken the gig given that he's instead currently out of coaching all together. I also don't really think that LaSalle Thompson's lack of a connection to the Knicks has any relevance whatsoever. The idea is to put together the best staff possible, not the one with the most celebrated connection to the franchise.
That being said -- yes, I'm about to do that thing where I seemingly contradict everything I just said only moments earlier, don't we all love that thing? -- if I were running the Knicks, hiring Ewing as an assistant would have been a no-brainer for me. I say that as a personal decision, not that I think Jim Dolan absolutely had to agree with me. But to my mind, the Knicks did have a spot available within the staff, with Ewing as absolutely a qualified candidate, and you could argue a need for his particular area of expertise, that given his importance to the history of the franchise, it's a move I would have made in a heartbeat.
Certainly, I could see an argument by which the team would be wary of adding such a high-profile assistant coach, perhaps not wanting to burden Mike Woodson with managing that situation, but I also know that the sight of Patrick Ewing on the Knicks' bench every single night would have made me extremely happy and I definitely wish it were so.