Patrick Ewing had insisted that he wouldn’t watch “The Last Dance,” having lived through it. But while making the rounds of television and radio appearances Monday, he admitted that he did turn it on, reliving some of the moments that were hard to take in his career.
“I watched a little bit last night,” Ewing said on NBCSN. “It’s hard because I lived through it and a lot of the stories they are talking about, I have already known. It’s great . . . Michael Jordan was and is a great player — one of the best things to happen to the NBA.”
But what makes it hard to relive is that Ewing, while fashioning a Hall of Fame career with the Knicks, never got a championship ring with Jordan in the way.
When Ewing was a freshman, his Georgetown team lost to Jordan’s North Carolina squad in the 1982 NCAA championship game, and after winning his own college title two years later, he found a roadblock in front of him in the NBA.
“I was unfortunate, but fortunate to play against him and play with him,” he said. “We won two Olympic gold medals together in ’84 and ’92. He was the person that possibly stopped me from winning a ring, but when you are playing any sport, you want to play the best and beat the best. Right then, he was the best.
“I played 17 years and . . . we played against the Bulls six times,” Ewing said on ESPN. “We were only able to win one of those times, and unfortunately, he wasn’t there. So he’s been talking trash from the first day that I met him, and he still continues to talk trash, telling me that I have never beaten him when it counts.”
Ewing was friendly with Jordan, partially from growing up in the game together. They first met as high school players on the recruiting circuit, and after competing in college, they were clients of the same agent throughout their career. They played together on Olympic teams, and as former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy noted at the time, Jordan befriended competitors, softening them up for beatings on the court.
Ewing joked on ESPN that when his young son heard him speaking to Jordan on the phone, the child asked, “Is that Michael Jordan, the guy that’s on my shirt?”
Ewing also talked about criticism from Charles Oakley that the Knicks could not get past the Bulls because Ewing did not pass enough out of double-team coverage and was not Jordan’s equal as a great of the game.
“Hey, look, I have nothing but respect for Charles Oakley,” Ewing said. “He was one of my greatest teammates. We called him the hit man. He protected all our backs. Anything that happened on the floor, he was always going to be there to protect you, so I have nothing but respect for him.
“Me not passing out of double-teams, maybe there were times I should have, but there are times when I thought it’s my job to try to win the game, so that’s what I did. I gave my blood, sweat and tears to the Knicks. That’s it.”