Patrick Ewing’s time is now and Georgetown is the right place


Patrick Ewing has been preparing and waiting – and waiting – for his first big break for 15 years now. He’s never asked for handout or felt that he was owed anything just because he’s one of the greatest players in NBA history.

All Ewing’s ever wanted is an opportunity. One chance to prove he can not only be a head coach but a good head coach.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he can be an outstanding head coach,” Jeff Van Gundy said over the telephone, “at any level.”

This is an emotional and awkward time for Ewing, who currently serves as Steve Clifford’s top assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. Ewing is being mentioned as a possible candidate at Georgetown, his alma mater. It makes plenty of sense.

“He’s the perfect guy for the job,” says Mark Jackson, Ewing’s friend and former point guard with the Knicks. “He’s put in a lot of time coaching in the league. He’s the greatest player in Georgetown history. He should be the one to say he wants the job. That’s a no-brainer.”

Patrick Ewing, an assistant with the Hornets, has more than paid his dues and deserves a top job.

Jackson is right. But it’s complicated. It’s never been Ewing’s nature to play the political game through the media. He’s not going to campaign for a job. He’s certainly not going to do it with Georgetown after the school parted ways with John Thompson III. The Thompsons are family to Ewing. His son, Patrick Jr., is on the Hoyas coaching staff.

If you know anything about Patrick, and I’ve known him for 20 years, it’s that he’s incredibly loyal.

But this may also be the chance Ewing has waited for when he begin his apprenticeship as an assistant coach under Doug Collins and the Washington Wizards. There was a stop in Houston with Jeff Van Gundy and those years working with Jeff’s brother Stan in Orlando when the Magic and Dwight Howard reached the NBA Finals. Clifford, who worked with Ewing in both Houston and Orlando, brought him to Charlotte.

That is four NBA teams, 15 years of coaching experience and zero head coaching offers. Perhaps saddest of all is that the Knicks have had plenty of chances to bring Ewing back as an assistant coach or even interview for the head job but that’s never happened. It’s a disgrace, really.

Patrick Ewing will give everything he has to the Georgetown job.

“No top 50 player of all time has ever put so much into a second act as Patrick has,” Van Gundy said. “He’s been diligent in his preparation to become the best possible coach he can be.”

From all indications Ewing wants the Georgetown job and believes he can be successful there. It won’t be easy. Just ask Chris Mullin at St. John’s, Avery Johnson at Alabama and Dan Majerle, who is trying to build a program at Grand Canyon University.

The college game is about recruiting, hiring a strong coaching staff, dealing with university administrators and having relationships with influential alums.

If Ewing is up for the challenge, he should pursue the job. He won’t short change Georgetown. Ewing was a tireless worker as a player. He’s been that way as an NBA assistant coach and he’ll be that as a head coach.

It's a disgrace that the Knicks have never brought Patrick Ewing back to the organization.

This isn’t about winning a press conference. That quickly fades. It’s about building a winning program that the school will be proud of. Ewing will give Georgetown that chance.

All he needs is an opportunity.

It’s time.

Jack Benoitpatrick, ewing