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Untitled: Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing never won an NBA championship. Here’s what left him empty-handed.

This one stings. A surface-level summary of 1990s NBA history is basically: “Michael Jordan won the championships he was around to win, and Hakeem Olajuwon got the other ones in the middle.” Part of the reason the series Untitled exists is to better explain that era. With details and context, we hope to show that those oversimplified truths hang on some complex set-ups, near misses, and fascinating stories. Patrick Ewing’s Knicks wrote several of those stories; perhaps the most heartbreaking.

Ewing spent almost all of his legendary career in New York, and almost all of that stint competing for a championship. But, yes, Jordan interfered, albeit not as decisively as the short version of the story would have you think. Those Bulls were underdogs at one point, and even after that, came an inch here or a second there from losing to Ewing and company. Those inches and seconds describe some of the most sickening moments in the history of Knicks fandom.

Sickening, too, were the fates of Ewing’s teams that didn’t have to (or get to) face Jordan: The ones that fell to the Pacers, the Heat, and of course Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets in the brutal 1994 Finals.

Patrick Ewing retired without a championship, but we hope this episode of Untitled will help you appreciate how excellent he was and how rivals, fate, and bad timing conspired to stop him. You can’t tell this ringless story in a simple sentence or two.

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