Patrick Ewing Rejects D-League Coaching Job Offer From Knicks, More Evidence Knicks Just Do Not Get It


Patrick Ewing Rejects D-League Coaching Job Offer From Knicks, More Evidence Knicks Just Do Not Get It Patrick Ewing
's greatest fault apparently is not being Isiah
Thomas.

On the same day reports floated the possibility of Thomas, the
failed coach and executive, returning to the New York Knicks, another report
stated that Ewing, arguably the greatest player in franchise history, had
declined an offer to coach the Knicks' NBA Development League affiliate.

Ewing
was said to be "insulted" by the offer, and with good reason. The Knicks
have an open spot on their bench for an NBA assistant coach, but Ewing is not
believed to be a candidate.

No player in the last 30 years has meant as much to the
Knicks as Ewing, and having him present on the sideline at Madison Square
Garden would make sense from both marketing and basketball standpoints. But the
Knicks, as usual, do not get it.

This is not a case of a legendary player who is unwilling to
pay his dues before working on the big bench. Ewing began as an NBA assistant
coach in 2002 with the Washington Wizards, and since 2007 he had been a key
member of Stan Van Gundy's staff with the Orlando Magic. Ewing played a crucial
role in Dwight Howard's development and interviewed for two NBA head coaching
positions this summer after the Magic fired Van Gundy, and he is eminently
qualified to fill any open coaching position. Thomas, meanwhile, who has proven
himself to be unqualified for pretty much everything, could be back in an
official capacity working with good buddy Jim Dolan while Ewing sits at home in
New Jersey.

Times like these make one wonder why anybody still bothers
to be a Knicks fan. Ewing was saddled with the reputation of not being able to
win the big one during his playing career, when he helped the Knicks reach two
NBA Finals but never won a championship. Since he was traded to Seattle in 2000
— yes, the Knicks went out and traded the franchise's career leader in games,
minutes, points, rebounds, blocked shots and steals — New York has made only
four playoff appearances and has yet to make it out of the first round. In
retrospect, it is incredible Ewing was able to keep the Knicks so good for so
long.

Professional sports are littered with legends who serve on
coaching staffs as little more than figureheads. Ewing would deserve a spot on
Mike Woodson's staff, if only in recognition for his epic 27-point, three-block
performance on a bad ankle in Game 6 of the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals
— a performance that outshines Willis Reed's fabled appearance in Game 7 of
the 1970 NBA Finals, considering Ewing carried the Knicks to victory whereas
Reed scored the first two baskets and then sat the rest of the game. If
Ewing were underqualified, at least the Knicks could claim they wanted him to
build up his resume in the D-League with the Erie Bayhawks to one day return to
the bench on Broadway when he is ready.

But Ewing has been there, done that. He coached in an NBA
Finals and watched as Howard, his protégé, broke his record for most blocked
shots in a single Finals game. He directed the Magic's summer league squad, a
chore often assigned to up-and-coming future head coaches. Ewing is not merely "ready"
to become an NBA coach. He is
an NBA coach.

Dolan will and should receive criticism for this lunacy,
and the corresponding news about an imminent return for the clueless Thomas
makes Dolan an easy target. In the haughty Big Apple, though, Dolan's attitude
does not seem to be an uncommon one. It likely does not matter to the Knicks that
Ewing worked extensively for a more successful and better-run coaching staff in
Orlando — since that experience did not occur in Manhattan or under the New
York umbrella, the Knicks assume Ewing should have to go back to the minors and
work his way back up. This is New York — if he can make it there, he can make
it anywhere. But in Orlando? Heck, the Knicks appear to be saying, anybody can
make it there.

If Ewing never finds a role as a coach with his former team,
he may be better off. Perhaps he will have to sit out this season, but
eventually an opportunity with an NBA team should arise. Ewing belongs on an
NBA bench, but only for a team that values his work, knows how much he could
contribute as a coach and, most of all, would never touch Thomas with a 10-foot
pole.

Have a question for
Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame
or send it here.

Photo via Facebook/Patrick Ewing

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