Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing works the bench in the...

Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing works the bench in the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova during the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tom Thibodeau has known Patrick Ewing for decades, first when Ewing was the star player for the Knicks and Thibodeau was a young assistant coach, and then for years when they were peers — assistants together in Houston. And so Thibodeau, who has seen the ups and downs of coaching, felt for Ewing on Thursday.

Ewing was fired by Georgetown after the rough ending — a 32-point loss to Villanova in the Big East Tournament — to a 7-25 season. He finished 75-109 in six seasons at his alma mater, taking the Hoyas to one NCAA Tournament appearance.

“It's unfortunate, but Patrick is in my eyes, he's an all-time great, if not the greatest Knick of all time,” Thibodeau said. “And obviously working together with him, not only is he a great coach, he's an even better person. So it's disappointing. I thought he had some great moments there. I know it was very meaningful to him.

“I think the state of college basketball is in flux right now. So it's not only that we went through the pandemic, but also the transfer portal, the NIL, that’s changed the dynamics of college basketball tremendously.

"So I think sometimes we have to look at, OK, obviously when you have success, you don't do that by yourself, either. You share in that, and then when something doesn't work, it's not any one particular person, you have to share in that and say there's a lot of factors that go into this.

"But Patrick will be fine. He's, like I said, I've worked with him, so I know he's a great coach. But he's a great person. He's a dear friend. And so he’ll bounce back and good things will be coming in the future for him.”

Ewing was part of what almost seemed like a family tree at Georgetown that began in 1972 when John Thompson took over the program. He handed the reins to his longtime assistant, Craig Esherick, and then John Thompson III headed up the program. Ewing, who was a legendary player under Thompson, then took over.

“The thing about Patrick is as a coach, the only thing you can control is what you put into it,” Thibodeau said. “I know how much he put into it. Sometimes there’s things that occur that you have no control over. No matter what happens, it doesn’t change his love for that school and what that means to him. The initial disappointment of not being there anymore, that’s normal human nature. But he’ll bounce back. I know how strongly he feels about the school, how much appreciation he has for the time that he was there. And he’ll still be involved with Georgetown. It’s a great school. He’ll move forward. He’ll be fine.”

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