Editor’s Note: As part of WFAN’s 30th anniversary celebration, from May 1-12, we asked you to vote on the best local sports figures over the past 30 years. Over the course of two weeks, we are revealing the top-10 vote getters.
NEW YORK (WFAN) — The pressure would have been too great for many athletes, but not for Patrick Ewing.
When the Knicks drafted the center in 1985, he had to live up to the hype that accompanied being a college superstar at Georgetown and the No. 1 overall pick, while also trying to satisfy the sky-high expectations of New York sports fans.
While Ewing never delivered a world title to the Big Apple, he was great in every other sense of the word. In 15 seasons with the Knicks, he averaged 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He was a Rookie of the Year and an 11-time All-Star, and led the Knicks to the NBA Finals twice, in 1994 and 1999.
Arguably, the signature performance of his career came in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. Facing Reggie Miller and the Pacers, Ewing had 24 points and 22 rebounds, including a key put-back with 27 seconds left that gave New York a one-point lead. The Knicks held on to win 94-90, earning a spot in the NBA Finals for the first time in 21 years.
Ewing is the Knicks’ all-time leader in games played (1,039), points (23,665), rebounds (10,759), blocks (2,758) and steals (1,061).
“He has a heart of a champion,” Michael Jordan once said of Ewing. “When you thought about New York, you thought of Patrick Ewing. He came and gave life back into the city.”