(<i>Patrick Ewing is part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2008</i>.)<br><br>One of the most hyped high school players of his era, Ewing lived up to the publicity almost immediately upon his arrival on Georgetown's campus. The seven-footer led the Hoyas to a 30-7 overall record, a Big East championship and the program's first Final Four appearance since 1943. Ewing's freshman season ended with a last-minute defeat to North Carolina in the national title game but the outlook for the future was promising.
2 of 13Manny Millan/SI
Cutting Down the Nets
After slumping to a 22-10 season during Ewing's sophomore year, the Hoyas rebounded with another banner season in 1983-84: finishing with a 33-4 overall record, a Big East championship and a return trip to the Final Four. At the Seattle Kingdome, Georgetown defeated Kentucky and Houston to bring home the program's first national championship, with Ewing logging 18 points, 18 rebounds and an eye-popping 15 blocked shots over two games to collect Most Outstanding Player honors.
3 of 13Andy Hayt/SI
First Olympic Gold
Just months after winning the NCAA tournament, Ewing competed alongside Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin and Steve Alford for the United States in the Summer Olympics. The Americans defeated Spain in the gold medal game, 96-65, with Ewing contributing nine points and four rebounds. "The feeling is equal," remarked Ewing when asked to compare winning gold with the NCAA title.
4 of 13Carl Skalak/SI
Georgetown's team during Ewing's senior season might have been even better than the previous year's national title squad. The Hoyas spent 12 of 17 weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation -- spending the other five at No. 2 -- and lost just two regular-season games by a combined three points. The Hoyas seemed destined for a second straight title and dynasty status, but something funny happened on the way to the coronation: Eighth-seeded Villanova recorded a 66-64 stunner over Georgetown in the national championship game.
5 of 13AP, Manny Millan/SI
The Big Prize
With NBA franchises willing to stop at nothing to acquire Ewing out of college, the NBA instituted a lottery system to dissuade teams from tanking games. Instead of the team with the worst record getting the No. 1 overall pick by default, they'd simply get the best chance in a drawing for the first selection. Just weeks after hitting the jackpot in the first Draft Lottery, the New York Knicks made Ewing the first pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.
6 of 13Mike Powell/Getty Images
Rookie of the Year
With incumbent frontcourt stars Bernard King and Bill Cartwright sidelined for most of Ewing's rookie season, the seven-footer averaged 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots to become the first New York player to capture NBA Rookie of the Year honors since Willis Reed in 1965. The first-year post man won the award despite missing 32 games -- along with his first All-Star Game -- because of a knee injury.
7 of 13Manny Millan/SI
The Courageous Captain
The Knicks won the Atlantic Division title during the 1991-92 season with a 51-21 record, advancing to meet the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With New York facing elimination in Game 6, Ewing spirited the Knicks to an emotional 100-86 victory with 27 points and eight rebounds while playing on a terrible ankle sprain. The center drew comparisons to Willis Reed for his courage -- but the Knicks would ultimately bow to the Bulls in Game 7.
8 of 13Theo Westenberger/SI
Second Olympic Gold
FIBA's decision in 1989 to allow NBA players to participate in the Olympics led to the creation of the Dream Team, widely considered the greatest assembly of talent in the history of basketball. Ewing played alongside luminaries like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley as the United States steamrolled to the gold medal with an average margin of victory of 43.8 points. Ewing averaged 9.5 points during the tournament and paced the team with 15 blocked shots.
9 of 13Manny Millan/SI
The Knicks entered the 1993 NBA Playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East after finishing the season with a 60-22 record, advancing to a rematch with the Bulls in the conference finals. New York took a 2-0 series lead and appeared poised to exorcise their Chicago demons. But the Knicks dropped four straight games in a collapse remembered for Charles Smith's famous missed lay-ups in the waning seconds of Game 5.
10 of 13Manny Millan/SI
Eastern Conference Champions
Michael Jordan's abrupt retirement gave the Knicks an unexpected boost of confidence entering the 1993-94 season. Ewing averaged 24.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks and New York again entered the playoffs with the best record in the East. The Knicks defeated the Nets, Bulls and Pacers to advance to their first NBA Finals since 1973. But the Knicks would fall to the Rockets in a dramatic seven-game series despite Ewing's emphatic Game 7 guarantee.
11 of 13Manny Millan/SI
Unlikely Finals Run
Ewing's numbers declined into the late '90s as the postseason disappointments piled up. But after barely qualifying for the playoffs as a No. 8 seed during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, the Ewing-led Knicks got a surprising upset of the top-seeded Miami Heat in the first round, even though he was fighting an Achillies tendon injury. New York made an unlikely run to the Finals -- with Ewing's injury ultimately forcing him to the sidelines -- but fell to the San Antonio Spurs in five games.
12 of 13Dan Levine/AFP/Getty Images, Tony Ranze/AFP/Getty Images
After New York
Unable to agree with Ewing on a contract extension, the Knicks sent him and Chris Dudley to Seattle in exchange for Glen Rice, Luc Longley, Travis Knight, Vladimir Stepania, Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell, two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Ewing averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Sonics in 79 games before signing with Orlando as a free agent in the offseason. The 39-year-old center averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds coming off the bench in his 17th and final NBA season.
13 of 13Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images
Knicks Retire Number
Ewing returned to Madison Square Garden when the Knicks retired his No. 33 jersey in an emotional ceremony on Feb. 28, 2003. His legacy in New York remains complex. While some fans criticize his postseason failures and aloof personality, many others appreciate his tireless work ethic and the excitement his presence returned to the Garden.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!