Patrick Ewing
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The “Hoya Destroya” is coming home.

D.C. basketball fans have never forgotten the vast contributions Patrick Ewing made to Georgetown in the 1980s, ultimately bringing a national championship to the city. Now, the NBA Hall of Famer will return to coach his alma matter, according to numerous reports Monday.

Since firing John Thompson III in March, Georgetown officials have eyed Ewing, 54, as the man to return the program to the glory it achieved under John Thompson Jr.

“I cannot imagine that you’re at Georgetown and you do not hire Patrick Ewing,” said Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who employed Ewing for six seasons as an assistant coach in Orlando with the Magic. “I think that they’re incredibly fortunate that he would think about leaving the NBA to take that job.

“First of all, college basketball, a large part of it is recruiting and I think Patrick’s got two things there,” Van Gundy said. “He absolutely loves Georgetown University. Always has, always will, and so he can sell the school. Second, all of these top-level players, the main thing they’re thinking about is getting to the NBA. Well, you’ve got a Hall of Fame coach. I mean all of the best big kids have to consider Georgetown right at the top of the list.”

The Pistons coach ran off a short list of other Georgetown greats he said that Hoya players would have access to under Ewing: “Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo, Sleepy Floyd going back, all the greats.”

“Patrick’s beloved by all those people,” Van Gundy said. “And then you take the years he has spent in the NBA, really working hard at becoming a great coach and a great teacher. He’s got the full package.”

Van Gundy and others, including his brother and former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, have repeatedly expressed disbelief that Ewing hasn’t landed an NBA head coaching gig.

“This is what I would say about Patrick,” Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford told the New York Post. “Yao Ming’s best years were working with Patrick. Dwight Howard, by far, his best years were working with Patrick. And Al Jefferson, who has had a great career, best years were working with Patrick.

“I think that if I was a young player and I wanted somebody to work with me, it would be Patrick,” Clifford said. “With that being said, he is a lot more than a big man’s coach. He’s a good coach. [Point guard] Kemba Walker goes to Patrick a lot.”

Ewing was indefatigable and relentless in pursuit of an NBA championship despite being denied on an annual basis.

One of the finest-shooting centers to play, he retired as the Knicks’ all-time leader in nearly every significant category and the game’s 13th all-time leading scorer with 24,815 points.

At Georgetown, Ewing’s fierce in-your-face style created a phenomenon known as “Hoya Paranoia,” and as an intimidating defensive presence, earned him the “Hoya Destroya” moniker.

The Jamaica-born Ewing arrived in the United States at age 11, and the gangly youth who had reached the height of 6-10 by junior high school initially proved awkward on the court when introduced to the game. However, by his senior year in high school, the world knew he would be something special.

“He will be the next Bill Russell, only better offensively,” high school coach Mike Jarvis said of Ewing while the budding giant played at Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin School.

The heavily-recruited Ewing chose to attend Georgetown, where he blossomed under the mentor-like guidance of coach John Thompson, a 6-10 former NBA backup center to Bill Russell on the Boston Celtics in the mid-1960s.

Ewing’s pro career was presaged by four superb years at Georgetown. Besides his team accomplishments, he was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player as a junior and as a senior, and his long list of honors included The Sporting News College Player of the Year Award and the Naismith Award.

“He has a heart of a champion,” said Michael Jordan. “When you thought about New York, you thought of Patrick Ewing. He came and gave life back into the city.”

Stacey Brown photo

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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