Patrick Ewing hopes his never-ending quest to be an NBA head coach leads him back to New York. The current Magic assistant coach was on the Mike Lupica Show on Tuesday said he hoped to one day rejoin the Knicks.
“I hope that one day I get to come back home because I do live in this area, I still consider this my area, I still consider myself a Knick,” Ewing said. “Hopefully one day I’ll be brought back here.”
Ewing was a Hall of Fame center who spent 15 of his 17 season with the Knicks, leading them to the 1994 NBA Finals. He averaged 21.0 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for his career. Ewing became an assistant coach shortly after retiring, joining the Washington Wizards coaching staff and then joining former coach Jeff Van Gundy’s staff in Houston. He has since became a teacher and mentor for Dwight Howard as part of Stan Van Gundy’s coaching staff in Orlando.
But through it all, Ewing has made no secret that he one day hopes to take the lead seat on the bench. He wants to one day be a head coach. He has interviewed for numerous jobs, most recently the vacant Detroit Pistons job Lawrence Frank filled. It appears Ewing is no closer to becoming a head coach, and he is not even first in line should Stan Van Gundy receive an early dismissal from the Magic.
Ewing heading to New York becomes more realistic when considering the thin ice everyone on the Magic seems to be. If that were to happen, you imagine Ewing would relish the chance to finally help the Knicks deliver New York a championship. Ewing told Lupica the players on the Knicks roster surpasses the caliber he played with while with New York.
Of course, the fit of a coach in Mike D’Antoni’s staff is another question. Ewing throughout his career — playing and coaching — has worked in half-court offenses. His big man expertise may not come in handy in D’Antoni’s seven seconds or less style of offense. D’Antoni has never been one to employ a traditional back-to-the-basket center.
Like everything else in Ewing’s career, he suffers from horrible timing. A trip home, like his search for a head coaching opportunity, may not come for a while. Ewing is fighting a perception about big man coaches that he definitely feels is present. It might be holding him back from his ultimate dream of becoming a head coach.
“People think that just because you’re a center, you’re not as smart as the guards or the smaller guys,” Ewing said. “I think that’s a load of crap. When I played with the Knicks, I was just as important or just as smart as any other of the guards I played with. I still had to call out plays, notice schemes, know the systems, do everything they had to do.”
There are very few “big man” coaches in the NBA today. Kevin McHale in Houston might be the most notable and he has not had the greatest success record. Ewing’s boss, Stan Van Gundy, has stumped for Ewing to get his opportunity numerous times but it just has not come.
As always Ewing waits, hoping to get the opportunity he yearns for, whether that is a return to New York or a head coaching position.