Knicks legend Patrick Ewing will sit at the team’s dais and work his magic at the NBA’s draft lottery in May.
Late Friday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley reported that New York Knicks legend and current Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing will be designated as the NBA team’s “representative” at the league’s Draft Lottery held May 14th.
While Ewing, the franchise’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader, is manning the sidelines at his alma mater, the Basketball Hall of Famer will return to the Knicks in a strictly symbolic capacity to sit at the team’s dais and pass good fortune to New York.
Ewing was drafted by the Knicks in 1985 with the first overall pick. That year, the NBA implemented a new lottery system one month before the draft, which resulted in New York winning the first ever lottery.
The Knicks, 17-65, finished the 2018–19 season with the league’s worst record and tied the franchise-worst record previously unanimously held by the 2014–15 team. In May of 2015 the Knicks fell from second-best odds to win the lotto and had to settle for the fourth pick in the draft with which they drafted the now-traded Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis.
The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery, where the rights to draft Ewing were eventually won, was the only instance in Knicks franchise history during the lottery era that the team moved “up” in draft order instead of staying at the same spot or losing ground, like the 2015 and 2017 drafts.
Ewing’s relationship with the Knicks has been at times less than harmonious. Prior to the hires of Scott Perry, New York’s general manager, and head coach David Fizdale, Ewing was only acknowledged by the team when visiting as an opposing team’s assistant coach at Madison Square Garden, the arena in which he dominated for 15 years. Ewing and the Knicks ended their relationship on the rocky side, when he was traded immediately before the 2000–01 season. Many criticized the Knicks when Ewing was overlooked during multiple searches for head-coach vacancies the team needed to fill.
Fizdale has already involved Ewing in the young Knicks’ development. Earlier this season, Ewing was invited by New York’s coach to speak to the burgeoning team in November 2018. In addition to Ewing, a litany of successful NBA players like Bill Bradley, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Chris Bosh, and Rasheed Wallace were given the O.K. from Fizdale to inspire the ‘Bockers.
It’s not the first time in recent years the Knicks have passed the rock to a former franchise great to muster up luck at the lottery, however. Frazier, the team’s all-time leader in assists and current MSG Network color commentator, represented the ‘Bockers at the 2017 draft lottery. Perry would have the honor of sitting at the dais the following year.
Things are different at the 2019 draft lottery. The NBA has tinkered with the odds, altering the best odds to land the number one, and ultimately rights to draft Duke star Zion Williamson, to 14% to the three worst teams. In years past the worst team was granted the odds-on favorite at 25%. The Knicks, with the league’s worst record, has the same odds to land Williamson as the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers; however, New York cannot fall lower than the fifth pick in the draft.
The Knicks are hoping they can draft the AP College Basketball Player of the Year, Zion, and build around the gifted forward. In doing so, the Knicks believe Williamson could further attract stars willing to play with the 18-year-old in free agency (New York will have salary cap room to sign two max-contract-level players).
Ewing’s involvement with the team on lottery night advances the idea that the franchise is hoping to come full circle and ignite another Pat-like dynasty in New York—building a contender that could even surpass Ewing’s Knicks, which went to two Finals during his Big Apple tenure.