|Friday, February 28
Updated: April 16, 3:45 PM ET
Ewing: 'I will always be a New Yorker'
NEW YORK -- Patrick Ewing's jersey No. 33 was retired Friday night and raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden, where it will forever hang alongside the two championship banners that were there before he came to New York.
Ewing did not shed any tears as he was showered with gifts and adulation during a 30-minute ceremony at halftime of the Orlando-New York game.
"I always will be a Knick. I always will be a New Yorker,'' Ewing told the crowd before he stood with his father and his three children as a banner with No. 33 was raised to the ceiling.
The Knicks presented Ewing with a new sports utility vehicle, a set of autographed jerseys from other professional sports stars who wore No. 33 and a statue commemorating his open-armed pose atop the scorer's table after the Knicks defeated Indiana in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals.
"Despite not winning the championship, which is something I wish I could have been a part of, I think I had a great career,'' Ewing said. "I've accomplished a lot. But that's the only thing I'm disappointed that I never could achieve.''
Ewing received a one-minute standing ovation before the fans chanted his name for 30 seconds prior to the ceremony, which included appearances by many of Ewing's former teammates, opponents such as Michael Jordan, coaches and general managers.
"Even though I may not shed a tear, you just don't know the joy I feel inside,'' Ewing told the crowd. "We've had our ups and downs, but y'all have always shown me that you appreciate everything I brought to the table.
"If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't want to play nowhere but New York.''
Ewing held a news conference prior to the game and drew laughs from former coach Jeff Van Gundy when he lamented the long hours he now must put in as an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards. Ewing also thanked his father for moving the family from Jamaica to America, saying he could only wonder what would have become of him if that event had not taken place.
Ewing's number is the ninth to be raised to the rafters of the Garden, joining Walt Frazier (No. 10), Dick Barnett (12), Earl Monroe (15), Dick McGuire (15), Willis Reed (19), Dave DeBusschere (22), Bill Bradley (24) and Red Holzman (613, for his career victory total).
Ewing holds club records for most seasons (15), games (1,039), points (23,665), minutes (37,586), field goals (9,260), attempts (18,224), free throws made (5,126) and attempted (6,904), rebounds (10,759), steals (1,061), blocks (2,758), 40-point games (30) and All-Star selections (11).
Still, his career will be defined as much by his accomplishments as by his failure to bring the title that was expected when the Knicks won the draft lottery in 1985 and selected the heralded 7-footer from Georgetown.
The crowd gave huge cheers to Van Gundy and former teammates John Starks, Charles Oakley and Bernard King. Jordan, who often cost Ewing a chance to win an NBA championship, received both cheers and boos, while Alonzo Mourning received mostly boos.
Reed called Ewing the greatest Knick of all time, although Ewing told the crowd he did not consider himself worthy of that title.
"Why can't we just appreciate people without always having to compare them with somebody else?'' filmmaker and Knicks season ticket holder Spike Lee said. "I know it's human nature, but I think nowadays it's gone way overboard. He was a great player, simple as that.''