On the day of the NCAA championship between North Carolina and Gonzaga, there’s already enough excitement in the world of college basketball. But now, news confirmed by ESPN that NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing is returning to Georgetown three decades after he began his rise to stardom has lit up the web — and with good reason. In fact, here are five good reasons to be excited about the news.
1. Ewing is coming full circle to the school that catapulted him and that molded him as a basketball player. During his time at Georgetown from 1981-85, Ewing led the school to three NCAA championship appearances and a title. After that he spent 17 seasons in the NBA, making the Hall of Fame, 15 of them with the New York Knicks, where he was an 11-time All-Star. He is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist. But through all that, he is still remembered as the player who rebuilt the Georgetown program and turned them into a basketball powerhouse in the 80s. Georgetown did not appear in the NCAA tournament this year.
2. We may well get to see Ewing pull Georgetown back to greatness again. Ewing is replacing John Thompson III who was fired last month after a 13-year run with the school. He led the team to eight NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four, but this season ended with a 14-18 record. Ewing on the other hand, has been one of the most sought after coaches in basketball. He is currently working as assistant head coach of the Charlotte Hornets and had spent time on the staffs of the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic. He also interviewed for the head coaching job with the Sacramento Kings.
3. The hire means the Big East is still an important conference. Truth is, it’s always been important. Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette and Xavier all made appearances in the NCAA tournament this year, so the Big East is no stranger to winning basketball formulas. Bringing Ewing in means Georgetown still wants to be counted among the schools that are known to be Division I competitors. We don’t yet know if Georgetown is destined for the Sweet 16, but the expectation will be there and there’s no reason to doubt it.
4. Two words: North Carolina. Isn’t it ironic that Ewing gets hired on the day that North Carolina returns to the NCAA championship for the second year in a row? The Tar Heels, if you’ll remember, beat the Hoyas with a buzzer-beating shot in the 1982 title game fired by none other than then-freshman phenom Michael Jordan.
It was also Ewing’s first year at Georgetown and there’s no doubt it stung him until he led the team to a championship in 1984. But that was then and this is now. Putting Georgetown back into the equation with Duke, UNC, Kentucky and Villanova will make for an exciting 2017-2018 season and tournament.
5. Two more words: John Thompson. The relationship between these two are an example of how a coach can bring out the best in a player and a player can bring out the best in a coach. Thompson’s son is out at Georgetown, but Ewing coming in seems like a more fitting passing of the torch. Thompson coached Georgetown from 1972-1999 with a record of 596-239. Because Ewing is one of the most beloved NBA players ever, fans would love to see him follow his mentor’s footsteps with as lengthy and successful a career. Not saying that Ewing has to be Thompson, but no one would mind him also creating a legacy as one of college basketball’s greatest coaches.