TRUE BIG MAN
The former Knicks star considers himself a different breed form today's centers. He's looking for his first head-coaching job; in the meantime he has a little advice for men in the middle.
DAN PATRICK:Could you have played with Carmelo Anthony?
PATRICK EWING: I would have loved to play with Melo. He's a bona fide superstar. He's an outstanding pick-and-roll player. I can pick-and-pop. He can come off the pick-and-roll. We would be a dual threat.
DP:But you wouldn't always be the No. 1 option.
PE: Any big man needs a great perimeter player. Look at Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]. Kobe [Bryant] and Shaquille [O'Neal]. [Dwyane] Wade and Shaq.
DP:Where do you rank Tim Duncan as a big man?
PE: Well, he's a center. [Laughs]
DP:He says he doesn't want to be listed as a center.
PE: He may not want to be, but in today's game he's a center. And he's one of the best players who have played this game. He's slowing down. He may not be able to do it on a night-in-and-night-out basis, but he gives it to you when you need it.
DP:At their best, LeBron James or Larry Bird—who you got?
PE: That's tough. They're both great. Growing up in Boston, I wasn't a Celtics fan. Me and my friends said, Larry's terrible. The media is just hyping him up. He can't really jump that high. I finally got to the league, and I called my friends back home and said, Remember all that trash we were talking? That was nothing but trash. This man is the truth.
DP:What about LeBron?
PE: LeBron's a great player. I'm not even going to try to compare them. LeBron may be a better defender.
DP:What do you think Dwight Howard will do?
PE: I hope he stays [with the Lakers]. He has to settle down and pick one place and play like Dwight Howard is capable of playing. When I first got to Orlando [as an assistant coach], he dominated offensively and defensively.
DP:But he doesn't have a signature move, and his free throw shooting is terrible.
PE: He's been a horrible free throw shooter. He keeps changing. He needs to pick which way he wants to shoot it and shoot like that the rest of his career.
DP:Why hasn't anyone emulated Kareem's skyhook?
PE: When Pat Riley came to New York, he tried to get me to shoot the Kareem hook. I said, 'Pat, I admire Kareem, but that just isn't my style.' I was a face-up jump shooter. The bigger guys, like Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum—the skyhook would be perfect for them.
DP:How tough was stopping the skyhook?
PE: I remember playing against Kareem my third year in the league. Rick Pitino was my coach. I was like, Rick, we need to double-team Kareem. Rick was like, No, he's getting old. I was like, Rick, he may be old, but that hook is still effective. And Kareem got hot on us, and there was no way in heck we could stop him.
"Sometimes when things go well, we don't always have our best days as human beings. Sometimes when things go badly, we're a little more humble, a little more gracious. There may be a little bit of that going on here because we've had some success."
—NICK SABAN, Alabama coach, after former assistant Tim Davis called him "the devil himself"
Tom Ricketts's plans for renovating Wrigley Field, including adding a video board, have met with resistance. The Cubs' owner explained his motives. "We have to bring it into the 21st century," Ricketts told me. "Now when [fans] have a question or want to know a stat or see a replay, they're looking down at their iPhones. We want them looking up at the field." ... MLB executive Joe Torre suggested replay will expand, but one aspect of the game is off-limits: "Balls and strikes. From the time I started playing this game—and the game was alive long before me—that's always been something that the umpire's eye sees." ... Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins isn't under contract for next season, but that hasn't been a problem. "It could have been an issue," Hollins told me, "because players know when coaches are lame ducks. I have a very good group that saw the bigger picture." ... I asked David Robinson if Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ever yelled at him. "All the time," Robinson said. "He's just very focused on what's going on. He doesn't like the frilly stuff. That's what I loved about him."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES (EWING)
JIM PRISCHING/AP (RICKETTS)
ALLISON JOYCE/GETTY IMAGES (TORRE)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HOLLINS)
ALISSA HOLLIMON/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (ROBINSON)