Memories of Glory Days in Hoya Basketball

By Tim Sullivan Running the Option

One of the most famous and important Georgetown alumni is about to change his address. And I’m not talking about the one who is the most important in terms of things like, say, international policy or even setting the domestic agenda for the country. I mean important in terms of stuff that really matters to people like you and me on a day-to-day basis. That of course, is sports.

Sure, the fact that Governor George W. Bush or Vice President Al “I invented the Internet and was the inspiration for ‘Love Story'” Gore will succeed Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) as president of the United States of America and leader of the free world is important, I guess. But on a much more important note, the New York Knicks announced this week that they are prepared to part company with Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85).

The move was forced on the Knicks by Ewing’s outlandish plans to play for three more years, by the end of which he will be about to turn 41 years old. The Knicks could not, in their right minds, pay Ewing the kind of money he is going to be demanding once his current contract runs out at the end of the year. Faced with the option of losing the player who has been the franchise, period, for the last 15 years and getting nothing in return next summer, they had no choice but to shop the big man around the league.

Wherever Ewing ends up after several failed deals that fell through at the last minute, the Knicks are sure to end up with several talented young players at positions where they already have a surplus of talent of shooting guards and small forwards. In the long run, the deal will probably neither hurt nor help the Knicks too much, and they still won’t win a championship next year either way. On paper, the deal is a pretty non-controversial exchange of middle-of-the-road-players.

But in a larger sense, the deal is monumental for the Knicks and representative of something monumental for this university. Saying that Ewing was the heart and soul of the Knicks for the last 15 years is an understatement; he was the Knicks, plain and simple. Even when his body has failed him in recent years, his heart and his effort have never given out, not once. Without his talent, as well as his leadership and focus, the Knicks would never have climbed out of the basketball abyss in which they were mired for years before his arrival. Those who question whether or not the Knicks would have been better off parting with him years ago need to look past a few missed shots in big games and realize that there would never have even been big games to play in Madison Square Garden without the arrival of the Georgetown big man in 1985. Make no mistake about it, a chapter has closed in the annals of the New York Knickerbockers.

The attempt to deal Ewing, and the Knicks’ realization that he is too old to be part of their future means a lot to what was once the thing this university was best known for, the men’s basketball program. Ewing embodied everything that was Georgetown basketball; he was big, talented and intelligent, a coach’s dream. He was the first in a line of dominant big men in the NBA who found their roots on the Hilltop, such as Dikembe Mutombo(CAS ’91), Alonzo ourning (CAS ’92) and Allen Iverson. The beginning of a legacy is now rapidly approaching his basketball end.

Does this mean that a chapter is closing in the annals of Georgetown’s basketball history too? Maybe, maybe not. With the end of Head Coach Emeritus John Thompson’s at the top of the program and now the beginning of the end of Ewing’s career, the Hoyas are certainly not what they once were. They haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in four years, and after going to three out of four Final Fours in the early ’80s, they haven’t been back since.

The optimistic answer to this question is that, no, the era of Hoya basketball prominence has not come to a close. Head Coach Craig Esherick is a former Thompson player and assistant, and many of the former Hoya stars, including Ewing, continue to do their off-season workouts in McDonough. Georgetown basketball is still a family affair. The current team had a late-season resurgence last year, playing extremely well in the Big East Tournament and beating Virginia 115-111 in an epic triple-overtime NIT game. The Hoyas will return all of their starters, including 3rd Team All-Big East center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Kevin Braswell and Lee Scruggs, along with several key role players.

So while the Hoyas’ dynasty has not been up to its usually high standards in recent years, fear not, freshmen: the Hoyas have the potential to rebound from their woes this year. And that’s where you as fans come in. Any great college team has rabid fans. (See Cameron Indoor Stadium. See also, Notre Dame Stadium.) I won’t lie to you, MCI Center is not the most convenient place in the world to get to, but if you want to have a team to be proud of, it’s well worth it.

So before your parents leave on Sunday, get them to buy season tickets for you, and go to three-quarters of the games, even if you think you’re too busy or that it will take too much effort. Trust me, if you want Georgetown to win, you have to do your part too.

So if I can give you one piece of advice completely unrelated to academics and social life, which you will get plenty of, it is this: don’t just be Georgetown students. Be Georgetown fans, too. Your school needs you. Your classmates need you. A dynasty needs you.

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