On behalf of his fellow NBA players, Shaq repeatedly begged the Wizards to trade him out of Washington during a game in February 1995. While he was not traded that night, months later in March 1996 Patrick Ewing would become one of the biggest names on the planet as he began playing for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The “when did shaq retire” is a question that has been asked many times. Michael Jordan was adamant Patrick Ewing’s transformation began because of a young Shaquille O’Neal.
Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing had a lot in common, but they were also quite different. On a college recruiting tour in 1981, they met. They squared battle against one other in the 1982 NCAA championship game the next year. Their basketball paths crossed in the NBA, but that’s where the parallels stopped.
Jordan rose to prominence in the league and became a championship-hungry player. The New York Knicks were entrenched in mediocrity, and Ewing seemed uninterested in the limelight. That suddenly changed, according to Jordan, who claims Ewing’s renewed zeal was sparked by a teenage Shaquille O’Neal.
Prior to the NBA, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing had a friendship.
Michael Jordan (L) and Patrick Ewing (R) of the NBA attend the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York, on September 8, 2021. | Getty Images/Jim McIsaac
Jordan and Ewing both played in the NBA for a long time and were both inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jordan was the third overall choice in the 1984 NBA Draft, whereas Ewing was the first pick in 1985 by the Knicks. Ewing was a 17-year NBA veteran who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Jordan played in the league for 15 years and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
The two had a short history before to their NBA triumph. The two met in the spring of 1981, according to Sports Illustrated. They paid a visit to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, after UNC head basketball coach Dean Smith coordinated their schedules.
While Jordan was a member of the UNC basketball team, Ewing was a member of the Georgetown basketball team. North Carolina and Georgetown met in the NCAA championship game in 1982 by chance. In a 63-62 victory, Jordan sank the game-winning shot, putting him on the national basketball map.
Jordan and Ewing were teammates on the 1984 Olympic squad, having hired the same agency. Despite the fact that they both went to the NBA as franchise saviors, their differences surfaced at that point.
Michael Jordan was adamant. Because of Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing changed his mind.
The Knicks experienced losing seasons in each of Ewing’s first four seasons in the league. They’ve only made it to the playoffs once. He wasn’t the marketing machine Jordan was, even if he was playing in New York. That, Jordan thought, had a large role on Weing’s personality.
“I believe Patrick was a bit overwhelmed, a little nervous about his circumstances when he came out of college,” Jordan told Sports Illustrated in 1993. “He’s a lovely man, but he’s bashful, and he didn’t want to come out as backward or stupid in interviews.” He only opened out to those with whom he felt at ease, which meant he seldom signed autographs or smiled for the cameras.”
With the passage of time, Ewing evolved. He grew more energetic and talkative. His performance improved dramatically as a result of this.
“I don’t believe he would have pushed himself to the extent where he would have been a dominating force before,” Jordan added. “I don’t mean he didn’t give it his all; he always did.” However, he has now made himself almost unstoppable. I used to be able to sneak up behind him and take his shot from behind, but that’s no longer possible since Patrick won’t let it.”
Ewing’s lack of respect on the floor may have been the catalyst for the move. A youthful Shaq dethroned Ewing as the starting center at the 1993 NBA All-Star Game. Jordan stated that this was what sparked Ewing’s new makeover.
“I know Patrick isn’t concerned with what the media thinks about him,” Jordan added, “but I know he is concerned with earning the respect of his peers, the other great centers in the game.” And I know it drove him and continues to drive him when he believed he wasn’t going to get it this year, when Shaquille beat him out for the All-Star squad. It’s true, even if he won’t accept it.”
In the Knicks’ playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, Ewing’s new outspoken role was clear.
On May 4, 1993, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, John Starks delivers the notorious headbutt to Reggie Miller. pic.twitter.com/NDN5NEtNZg
May 4, 2014 — evan auerbach (@evboogie)
In a moment of rage during the first round of the 1993 playoffs, Ewing’s teammate John Starks headbutted Indiana Pacers player Reggie Miller. Miller, who is notorious for his trash language and nasty methods, repeatedly elbowed Starks before being headbutted by the Knicks guard, who flailed theatrically in front of the officials. In the Knicks’ defeat, Starks was ejected.
In 2017, Starks told MSG Networks, “That needed to happen.” “It had to happen, no matter what.” He continued beating me with ‘bows’ at that specific moment, I recall.
Ewing seized over immediately after the incident, getting in Starks’ face and tearing the guard to shreds. Trent Tucker, a player of the Chicago Bulls at the time who had previously played with Ewing for six years, was taken aback by Ewing’s display of enthusiasm.
Tucker told SI, “That startled me when I watched it on TV.” “While Pat’s natural impulse is to lead by example, there comes a point when a leader must become visible and loud. The team tried for years in New York to get Patrick to do it, but I believe it’s only recently that he’s agreed.”
The squad became stronger as Ewing assumed the role of outspoken leader. In 1994 and 1998, the Knicks reached the NBA Finals, as well as the conference finals in 1993 and 2000.
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