For fifteen years, Patrick Ewing was a pillar for the New York Knicks. Although he could not bring a championship back to the Big Apple and Madison Square Garden, he remains a source of pride for the city. Ewing is considered one of the top ten greatest centers in NBA history, made 11 All-Star appearances during his tenure in the league, and is seen by most pundits as the greatest player to ever don a Knickerbocker jersey.
Now, as the head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team, Ewing is back at MSG to lead his college players through the Big East tournament. But apparently, the current security team at “The Mecca of Basketball” considers no one above protocol – not even “Big Pat” – and all his accomplishments and celebrated moments were not enough for them to let the 7-foot tall legend roam around and not to ask him for ID.
“I thought this was my building,” Ewing recounted yesterday at a postgame conference after his Hoyas pulled off an exciting 72-71 win against the Villanova Wildcats. “And I feel terrible that I’m getting stopped, accosted, [people] asking for passes. “Everybody in this building should know who the hell I am, and I’m getting stopped — I can’t move around this building. I was like, ‘What the hell? Is this Madison Square Garden?'” And maybe the present crop of security is too many years removed from Ewing’s heyday to remember who he is.
While it wasn’t clear if “Big Pat” was joking, his statement did have shades of previous beefs between Ewing’s former teammate Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan. Oakley and Dolan’s relationship has been contentious enough to culminate in Oakley being escorted from Madison Square Garden in a 2017 kerfuffle and even result in a court mediation about the matter.
But from MSG Entertainment’s point of view, it’s all been a misunderstanding between staff and Ewing. The organization released a statement to the press later Thursday afternoon: “[James Dolan] and Patrick have a long-standing relationship; they spoke this afternoon and reaffirmed that. We all know, respect, and appreciate what he means to The Garden and New York. Good luck to him and his Hoyas in the Big East semi-finals.” Ewing’s Hoyas face off against the Seton Hall Pirates. Hopefully, for him, they won’t be as successful in stopping him, too.
Of course, Twitter was just as shocked and angry as Ewing. Check out some of the reactions below.