The stall sits two spots in from the left corner of the Knicks' locker room at the Garden. There is nothing visually extraordinary about it, but there is tangible history there. It is the locker where Patrick Ewing spent most of his Hall of Fame career, sitting after games with both knees packed in ice and both feet submerged in buckets of frozen water. From there he guaranteed successes and solemnly explained failures.
And here now sits his son, a living legacy who allows himself to revel in the nostalgia as he attempts for the second time in three years to make the team.
"No one else in here remembers our history," said Patrick Ewing Jr., who literally grew up in that locker room with his father and among doting uncles such as Charles Oakley, Derek Harper and Herb Williams. "I don't ever remember this team being bad. We were always in the playoffs. I remember this building way before . . . "
His voice trailed off. No need to bring up what has happened since then. No need to remind him that before he took over his father's old locker, the nameplate read "Marbury."
That would be Stephon Marbury, whose presence on the roster in 2008 was the reason why Ewing Jr. was the final cut before the regular season. It was a decision the coaching staff lamented.
Ewing Jr. came back for another try here because he really doesn't see himself anywhere else. "Even if I make the team, I'll be struggling to get minutes," he said. "But the fact that I have so much fan support, it's tremendous."
He received some of the loudest cheers Sunday at the Garden as the Knicks held an open practice attended by about 6,500. Amar'e Stoudemire was the obvious favorite and Russian center Timofey Mozgov already seems to have a cult following (fans were shouting, "Drago!" in reference to the "Rocky IV" character). But there is a special place in the heart of most Knicks fans for Ewing Jr., and he knows why.
"I look at the team the same way the fans do," the 26-year-old said. "Any fan that's my age is going to remember the same things I remember. I'm not sure these guys in [this locker room] were Knicks fans back then, but everyone in New York was a Knick fan back then, and they remember what it was like at the Garden . . . This place was jumping."
In the last decade, such talk of the good old days often has been lost on players who have passed through here with more rapidity than wins. But Ewing Jr. says he often talks about it with his new mates, who seem interested.
"I tell them about when Larry [Johnson] hit the four-point play or the time we beat the Bulls or beat the Pacers to get to the Finals," Ewing Jr. said. "But there's nothing like the experience. I think to fully understand it, we're going to have to experience it ourselves."
Ewing Jr. just wants to experience opening night in a Knicks uniform. Unlike 2008, he has a signed contract, which means all he has to do is make the team to lock it in. There are 16 players on the roster and the lone training-camp invitee, Shawn Williams, has been solid. There's also Eddy Curry. So, naturally, Ewing Jr. doesn't believe anything is a given yet.
"I'm confident, but at the same time, they're looking at everybody," he said. "If they want me here, they'll have me here. If they don't, that's just how it is."
The Dolan family owns controlling
interests in the Knicks, MSG and
Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.