Former New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing has interviewed for the Detroit Pistons' vacant head-coaching job, and according to a variety of reports has emerged as a serious candidate to get the job.
Does Ewing's seriousness about becoming an NBA head coach surprise anyone else who followed his Hall of Fame career through Georgetown and the NBA? During his playing days as an intimidating, shot-blocking defensive force at Georgetown and as a high-scoring NBA big man with maybe the best jump shot for a man his size the NBA had ever seen until Dirk Nowitzki came along I never thought of him as a potential head coach. He never seemed to the public like a 'coach on the floor' type of player, or a guy who was smooth with the media and wanted to teach the game to others. He just played hard. All the time.
Ewing has now been an NBA assistant for nine seasons with Washington (under Doug Collins), in Houston under Jeff Van Gundy and now in Orlando under Stan Van Gundy. He is fighting the impression that all he has done in his last two stops is work with big men Yao Ming in Houston and Dwight Howard in Orlando.
"It's disappointing that I haven't moved to the next step to getting a head coaching job, but all I can do is keep working hard and keep on preparing myself for whenever that opportunity arises," Ewing told the New York Daily News recently. "A lot of people try to pigeonhole me into just a big man's coach and I'm just not a big man's coach. I'm a coach."
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has endorsed Ewing as a future head coach.
"To me, he's certainly got the resume and the profile that people should be talking to him," Van Gundy said in 2010. "He's spent his time as an assistant. He's done everything you need to do to prepare yourself. I think he definitely deserves a chance."
We will have to see if the Pistons give it to him. Detroit has reportedly interviewed several candidates, including former Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, former New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, former Pistons Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer and Kelvin Sampson, both of whom have NBA assistant coaching experience.
Ewing has former Knicks executive Dave Checketts, recently hired by Detroit as a consultant, in his corner. Only time will tell if that is enough to get him the job.