April 8, 2008
Ewing to Join His Coach and a Rival in the Hall
By HOWARD BECK
Patrick Ewing, who rescued the Knicks from their malaise in the 1980s and made them an Eastern Conference power in the 1990s, has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He will be inducted this fall, along with one of his most beloved coaches, Pat Riley, and one of his greatest rivals, Hakeem Olajuwon.
Four others round out the Hall’s class of 2008, which was announced on Monday: Adrian Dantley, a dominant scorer for seven N.B.A. teams; the Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson; the television announcer Dick Vitale; and Cathy Rush, a former coach and a force for women’s basketball in the 1970s.
Ewing played for the Knicks from 1985 through 2000 and remains the franchise leader in points, rebounds, blocked shots, steals and field goals. He scored 24,815 points in 17 seasons, ranking him 15th in N.B.A. history.
In a poetic twist, Ewing — now an Orlando Magic assistant coach — was at Madison Square Garden on the day before the Hall’s announcement. He drew a standing ovation after a video tribute played on the scoreboard Sunday.
“I’ve been to the Hall of Fame many times, in grade school and high school,” said Ewing, who grew up in Cambridge, Mass., less than two hours from the Hall’s home in Springfield. “I had field trips to the Hall of Fame and taking tours of it. I just never thought about that one day I possibly might be in it. I think it’d be great.”
Ewing called Riley, his coach from 1991 to 1995, “one of my best coaches” and said, “It would be an honor to go in with him.” Ewing and Riley led the Knicks to the 1994 finals, where they lost to Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets. The Knicks returned to the finals in 1999 and lost to the San Antonio Spurs (Ewing missed that series with an injury).
Olajuwon, Riley and Ewing were elected in their first year of consideration.
Riley has won five N.B.A. championships as a coach, four with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s and one with the Miami Heat in 2006. He ranks third, behind Lenny Wilkins and Don Nelson, in career victories.
Olajuwon led the Rockets to championships in 1994 and 1995, after helping the University of Houston to three straight Final Four appearances, from 1982 to 1984. He holds the N.B.A. career record for blocked shots with 3,830, and ranks seventh on the career scoring list with 26,946 points in 18 seasons.
Dantley, a Hall finalist on six previous occasions, was elected 17 years after playing his last N.B.A. game. He averaged 24.3 points in 15 N.B.A. seasons, including seven with the Utah Jazz. Dantley averaged more than 30 points for four straight seasons with the Jazz, from 1980 to 1984. He was also the leading scorer for the 1976 United States Olympic team.
Rush, considered a pioneer in women’s basketball, was a finalist for the sixth time. She led Immaculata University to three straight A.I.A.W. titles, from 1972 to 1974, and posted a record of 149-15 in seven seasons. In 1975, Rush’s team played Maryland in the first nationally televised women’s game.