From Jamaica to Springfield

By Eric D. Graham
Updated: April 10, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA — Patrick Ewing, who was known for his shot-blocking ability, rebounding skills, dynamic dunks, and high arching jump shot, was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this past Monday.

Ewing, a 7-foot center originally from Kingston, Jamaica settled with his family in Cambridge, Massachusetts, bursted on the national scene during the “Hoya Paranoia” period of college basketball.

During this historical era of college basketball, Ewing had Black kids all over America rockin’ Georgetown paraphernalia. Honestly, if you didn’t have a Georgetown Starter jacket or cap, you were not considered cool.

This was even before Spike Lee made Michael Jordan sneakers the standard bearer of hood fabulous. Even Patrick Ewing’s sweaty trademark tee-shirt that he wore underneath his G-town jersey was the style amongst all the youth in the streets and on the basketball court.

Georgetown, actually, was Hip-Hop’s first official college team. They were adopted by the hood because the Hoyas played basketball with the arrogance, aggression, and attitude that terrified white America. In effect, sport writers referred to them as “thugs” and considered their in your face defense as “muggings.”

Many inner-city kids didn’t even know that Georgetown was the oldest private, Catholic and Jesuit university located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. And oh yeah, it was pre-dominantly all-white.

But it really didn’t matter, because visually on television all they saw was an intelligent black head coach with a towel over his shoulder and an intimidating center named Patrick Ewing goal-tending every shot that the Tar Heels of North Carolina took during the classic 1982 NCAA Championship game.

Despite all the hype and hoopla surrounding the Hoyas, Ewing’s quest for his first NCAA title was denied by an unknown cocky freshman named Michael Jordan, who nailed a long-range jumper from the left-hand corner with his tongue-hanging out of his mouth to give UNC a victory over the Hoyas by the score of 63-62 on March 29, 1984.

Jordan, in fact, would continue to haunt Ewing during his entire NBA career while he played for the New York Knicks. The legendary Jordan-Ewing battles were brutal but Jordan and the Bulls some how always bullied their way to victory against the Knicks.

No thanks to Charles Smith.

On a collegiate level, Ewing helped the Hoyas reach three national championship games, winning the crown in 1984 by beating Hakeem Olajuwon (who was also voted into the Hall of Fame Monday) and the Houston Cougars.

Ten years later in 1994, “The Dream” became Ewing’s worst nightmare as the Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals three games to four.

Despite Ewing’s inability to win a NBA Championship, he is still listed as one of top 50 NBA basketball players ever to play the game and may go down as the greatest New York Knicks of all-times.

Ewing, a 11-time All-Star, also won two Gold medals in the Olympics and was a member of the “Dream Team” in 1992 that included superstars Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.

Due to Ewing’s outstanding 17-year career in New York, his No. 33 jersey was retired in Madison Square Garden on February 28, 2003. In his legendary NBA career, Ewing scored 24,815 points and had 11,607 rebounds.

Ever since Ewing has left New York, the team has not been the same. He truly is a Hall of Fame Player. Patrick, thanks for the “blood, sweat and the tears”.

More sweat than tears.