Jake Appleman on Hoya Pride

By Jake Appleman

June 30th, 2006

Washington D.C. –

Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Michael Sweetney and John Thompson walk into a bar. The mood is light for the jovial reunion that Thompson has arranged. Thompson is proud that each of these ex-Hoya giants put in the necessary hard work to fully maximize their talents on a professional level.
The hall of fame coach furrows his brow with his trademark white towel and begins by discussing his pride in the development of Harrington and Sweetney as serviceable Bulls.

“Othello, nobody thought you had the size or the skill to stick around, but you’ve carved out quite a nice little career for yourself. And, Sweets, even though I never coached you, I remember that everybody thought you were too wide to have much of an impact, but they didn’t know the type of hunger you possessed.” Everybody laughs. Almost on cue, a waitress brings out a giant double-decker cheesecake for Sweetney to consume. Everybody laughs harder.

“My only regret is that I’m going to have to eat this,” Sweetney jokes. “Yeah,” Harrington chimes in. “My only regret is that I won’t get any.”
Coach Thompson turns his attention to Mutombo. “Many people forget how dominant you were, Deke. Today, the paint is most notably guarded by big brawny guys like Ben Wallace. How soon we forget. Let’s all raise our glasses to the most dominant defensive center of the mid 90’s, a guy who did it without tremendous strength. He’s also the most charitable man I know.”

“Thank you coach,” Mutombo responds. He mumbles more heartfelt words in his trademark garbled rasp before adding, “My only regret is that the website WhowantsexMutombo.com is no longer up and running. Just kidding, my only regret is that most people in the world will never get to enjoy life like we do.”

After more laughter, they reminisce over Ewing’s collegiate dominance on the defensive end and the development of his dominant post-game; a gratifying look back at the hall of fame career of one the NBA’s all-time great big men. “My only regret,” Ewing says half jokingly “is that I never got a SLAM cover.”

“What about the ring?” Harrington asks? “Does it bother you that you never got one?”

“You know,” Ewing says, pausing to gather his thoughts. “It haunted me for a while, but I understand that it just wasn’t meant to be. We tried our hardest, but it was Michael’s league. And when he left, we got to a game 7, but the ball just didn’t find the net—repeatedly. I wish I could have had that finger roll back, but you know, we left it all on the floor every night. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

After Ewing finishes his thoughtful look back, another former Georgetown center struts into the bar. He flexes for the cute waitress before hollering down to the table where the others big guys are seated. “What’s up?” Alonzo Mourning shouts with a bravado that seems a little out of place for the gathering. He takes a seat at the round table and starts showcasing a giant rock on his ring finger. “Sorry I’m late, but, yo, check it out. It’s one of Shaq’s championship rings from his Laker days. I asked him to let me borrow it until we get our rings in November. He doesn’t feel like wearing any of his old rings anymore because he’s getting rims added to this year’s ring. He’s also getting a police radio attached to it so he can get calls for his other job.”

Shaq’s plans for his future championship bling draw a few laughs, but a really uncomfortable silence follows. Thompson furrows his brow once more with the white towel before speaking.

“You should have one major regret,” Thompson tells him. “I won’t exactly tell you what it is, but I will tell you to take that fools gold off your finger.”