Former Knicks head coach Don Nelson told the front-office in New York that they should explore trading Patrick Ewing for soon-to-be free agent Shaquille O’Neal during the 1995-96 season.
Nelson says the idea swiftly led to his firing by team owner James Dolan.
The 79-year-old Hall of Famer is happily retired, and now spends his days growing and smoking “Nellie Kush” in Maui.
Per The NY Post:
“I said, ‘You need to trade Patrick Ewing. And you need to trade him right away. There’s a guy by the name of Shaquille O’Neal that’s available, would love to come to New York. And we can jump in there and beat the Lakers out and get this guy. And we should do it,’” he told (HBO’s Bryant) Gumbel. “And of course it got back to Ewing, and I was done. I was toast.”
Nelson started with the Knicks in July of 1995, lasting until March of the following year.
“I didn’t think he had very much left in the tank,” he said of the then-33-year-old Ewing. “And he was one-dimensional. He was, you know, he was interested in rebounds and points. And that was it. And I thought that we could do better.”
Shaq’s reported interest in the Knicks at the time probably would have meshed with Nelson’s up-tempo style, though it seems not everyone was on board with the idea, most notably current franchise owner James Dolan.
“He listened,” Nelson said. “But I got fired about a month later. So somebody didn’t like it.”
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