As difficult as it was when the Knicks fell short in the 1994 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets, Patrick Ewing took it just as hard when he was unable to play for his elusive ring with his teammates five years later.
The 11-time All-Star appeared on The Post’s “Big Apple Buckets” podcast this week and discussed an array of topics, revealing he “broke down” on the team bus when forced to sit out the Knicks’ five-game loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the ’99 Finals due to an Achilles injury he suffered earlier in the postseason.
“It definitely would have been a tougher series for them [if I was healthy],” Ewing said. “Marcus [Camby] and myself would have been a formidable duo to go against both Tim [Duncan] and David [Robinson], but that was tough because to have to sit there and listen to all the noise that those fans were talking about, it was hard to take. I actually broke down.
“I didn’t want anybody to see me, so I went on the team bus and I broke down because I wasn’t able to play in it and we were losing.”
The current Georgetown coach also touched on various topics with hosts Sal Licata, Jake Brown and fellow former Knick and former Georgetown star Jerome Williams. Here is a sampling.
On the 1994 Finals
“We had an opportunity to beat Houston, and I’m not gonna say it was the game where John (Starks) missed those shots. I think that the third game — our first game back at home — Sam Cassell hit a huge 3 to propel them to the victory, but we were right there to get that game, and if we had gotten that game I thought that the series would not have gone back to Houston and we would have won. But it is what it is. Take our hat off to Hakeem [Olajuwon] and those guys, they did a great job.”
On the Knicks returning to the playoffs
“Definitely, once a Knick always a Knick. I was disappointed to see that it’s been a while since we’ve been relevant. But I’m just happy for all the things they’ve been doing. Sometimes you’ve got to be the phoenix rising out of the ashes. I think they’ve been down in the cellar for a while, and they’re doing a great job of coming back. You’ve got to give all praise to Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the cast with the Knicks.”
“He knows the ins and outs of the game. He’s a student of the game. He has been working at his craft for a long time, starting with the Knicks, San Antonio, Houston, Boston, to name a few. He’s been all over the place and worked for some great coaches. I just think that all of the things he’s learned, he’s using now. Working for Jeff Van Gundy and also, Pat Riley, always a defensive-minded coach, I think he’s doing an outstanding job. You got to also give the players credit, because they’re buying in to what he’s trying to teach them. Their future is bright right now.”
On Julius Randle buying in:
“It’s definitely important, you have to have allies in the locker room, and you prefer it to be your best players. Your best player is doing everything the coach is telling him that needs to do to be successful, everyone else will fall in line. That’s all I’ve been hearing about Randle. He’s been doing a great job of buying in, working hard and pushing his teammates.”
On the Michael Jordan/ESPN documentary:
“I really haven’t watched it. I lived through it, I didn’t need to watch it. Michael was a great player he did some remarkable things with that Bulls team. But I didn’t need to watch it. I lived through all the things that were going on. I still say he’s one of the best players to ever play this game.”
“That’s all in the past. Mr. Dolan and myself, we already talked about it. It’s water under the bridge. I’m looking forward to getting back up to New York, getting back to the Garden, hopefully maybe to watch a playoff game.”
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