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The Ewing Theory Needs a New Name

August 9th, 2017 at 1:15 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The mid-90′s was an interesting time for Simmons’ friend to have come up with the Ewing Theory, considering up to that point, the only time Patrick Ewing missed extended action due to injury was in his first two seasons in the NBA. During these years, he played for two of the worst teams he would be a part of over his illustrious career. The 1985-86 and 1986-87 Knicks won a combined 47 games. Forget asking whether they played better or worse with Ewing; those teams were like the modern-day Knickerbockers, terrible all of the time. By 1995, Knicks fans were more likely to miss a first-run Friends episode than watch a Knicks game without Patrick Ewing. After playing in 143 of 144 games in college, Ewing missed 10 games out of 745 regular season and playoff affairs between 1988 and 1995.

If Cirilli came up with the Ewing Theory in the mid-90′s and extended the idea back to Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas days, he must have been using a different set of criteria than what Bill Simmons defined in his column. There is no evidence that Georgetown played better without Ewing, nor did they make a competitive leap when he left for the NBA.

I should mention that limited play-by-play data from Ewing’s Georgetown days makes it difficult to analyze how the team fared when he was on the bench for significant chunks of time in foul trouble. Did the Hoyas have a game, or two, when they went on something like a 14-2 run while Ewing was on the bench to overcome a deficit and win a game? Perhaps. But when you consider that Ewing played in roughly 80 percent of the minutes Georgetown played basketball between 1982 and 1985, and only in his freshman season did he not lead the team in minutes played, it seems safe to assume that their unbelievable record during his college career was mainly because he was almost always on the floor.

Data: Basketball-Reference

Georgetown went to three national championship games with Patrick Ewing, winning their only championship in school history in 1984 against Hakeem Olajuwon and the University of Houston. Before Ewing arrived on campus, the Hoyas hadn’t been to a championship game since 1943. As Ewing takes over head coaching duties at his alma mater for the 2017-18 college basketball season, the school has yet to return to a title game since he left. So much for a team playing better without Ewing, or reaching new heights once he left campus. Ewing won 34 and 35 games in his final two seasons in college; the Hoyas did not win 30 games again until 2007, 22 years later.

Patrick Ewing was a transformative player at Georgetown. The guy was so dominant that they FIXED the NBA Lottery to get him to play in New York:

Credit: YouTube

Which brings us to the Knicks years. After the team suffered two dreadful seasons to start Ewing’s pro career, Rick Pitino turned the Knicks into winners, with the help of his superstar center, of course. And from 1987-88, when the Knicks started to become competitive, until 1997, Ewing missed a total of 21 games.

If we were …

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Tags: featured, NBA, New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing, Sports

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