Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan were rivals on the court in the 1990s, when the New York Knicks center could never quite get past Jordan’s Bulls.
Now, even in retirement, Ewing will have to answer to Jordan. The two are pairing up to lead on of the NBA’s most downtrodden franchises, the Charlotte Bobcats, with Ewing as an assistant coach and Jordan as owner.
The Bobcats new head coach, Steve Clifford, has reportedly brought Patrick Ewing on to serve as associate head coach. An official announcement is expected to come later in the week.
Ewing had been angling for the Bobcats coaching job last year, and after he was passed up for St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap, he took the season off from coaching. But Dunlap was fired after just one season, and now Ewing again has his chance to help lead the team.
It was not too big of a surprise that Clifford would reach out to Ewing. The two worked together on Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando before Clifford followed center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers this year. Clifford and Ewing also worked for the other Van Gundy, Jeff, for four years with the Houston Rockets.
Patrick Ewing, a former All-NBA center, has focused on tutoring big men in his coaching career. He has worked with Dwight Howard and Yao Ming on their post play, and is expected to work with the Bobcats frontcourt that collectively averaged just 18.3 points per game. Defense will also be key for Ewing. Clifford has a reputation as a defensive-oriented coach along the lines of the Van Gundy brothers and Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.Jordan and Ewing have a history that predates their NBA rivalry. Jordan hit the game-winning shot to lead the North Carolina Tar Heels over Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas in the 1982 NCAA title game. They later teamed up as members of the Dream Team in 1992, and during their playing careers shared an agent, David Falk.Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing had another famous duel on the court. In the movie Space Jam, Jordan led a team of Looney Tunes characters (plus Bill Murray) against a squad of aliens, one of which was Ewing.