Originally published in SLAM 65

I’ll give Patrick Ewing this—he was always real.

Forget on the court, I’m talking in the locker room. Some guys will politely listen to your questions, then just stare at you like you just asked to borrow their Mercedes and maybe take their girl out. Not Patrick. He’d come out of the Madison Square Garden trainer’s room an hour before gametime—knees iced, eyes straight ahead, headphones on with hip-hop blaring loud enough that you could make out the lyrics, firmly bouncing a game ball to his waist—and you just knew better. Pregame was his.

And as for postgame, good luck. At some point each night, Pat decided it was time to speak, and five minutes later he decided it was over. If you missed it, too bad. Just like in life, with Patrick you didn’t get any second chances.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get any, either. There was that one Game 7 back in ‘94, when John Starks continued to think the next shot was the one, and that was it. Ewing spent the ‘99 Finals in a suit, then shuttled from New York to Seattle to Orlando, as minutes and championship hopes declined by the day. Whenever he’d come back to town, he’d always make it a point to say hello, maybe because he remembered that I’d never bother him when he wanted to be left alone.

I don’t remember this dunk at all. Patrick was a rookie then, and Moses Malone was deep into his own Hall of Fame career. Maybe someday I can ask him about it, now that he has the time.

Russ Bengtson

At 1:45 in the video below…