Pat Riley’s “biggest failure” involves Patrick Ewing and NY Knicks

pat-riley-patrick-ewingVery few people can blame Patrick Ewing for not doing enough to help the NY Knicks win an NBA title in the mid-90’s. In fact, the team’s head coach at the time, Pat Riley, is still bitter about that period of his life.

Riley named his inability to guide Patrick Ewing to his only NBA championship as possibly his biggest failure, NY Post reported referring to the MSG Network’s program.

““Patrick was a guy that gave everything he could give to that city to try to win a championship,” Riley said. “It’s probably one of the biggest disappointments had in my life not being able to give them enough in Games 6 and 7 when we were in Houston, so Patrick could’ve gotten his first championship.”

“Our sort of culture, mission statement was that we were going to be the hardest-working, best-conditioned, most professional, unselfish, toughest, nastiest, disliked team in the NBA,’’ Riley said on the show. “We didn’t care about it. That was our identity. That is who we were.”

The Knicks were beaten by the Rockets in 1994 in seven games after holding a 3-2 lead when the series returned to Houston.

Meanwhile, Ewing recalled what he told Riley during one of the games.

“I remember Pat was running a lot of different plays and I went over to him and said ‘Pat, forget all those other plays that you are running, I am the one who is going to get the blame if we lose and the praise if we win so the buck has to stop here, get me the ball and let me go do my job,’’ Ewing said, according to the show’s excerpts.

“I had so much joy playing in New York, playing in front of all of those fans. I enjoyed every minute of it,” Ewing said.

Jeff Van Gundy, Riley’s assistant coach during the 1994 Finals run, said that it is almost hard to believe such a superstar as Ewing could be so loyal and so dedicated.

“I’ll have to be honest, only fools underappreciated Patrick Ewing. Ewing stayed the course through some frustrating times, but his single-minded approach towards winning set about a whole culture shift in how the Knicks perceived themselves.


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