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Patrick Ewing Should Take College HC Job

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By Jim Weber

Lost in all the publicity over Jason Kidd being named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets last week without any previous coaching experience is the NBA legend that’s still looking for his first head coaching gig: Patrick Ewing.

Ewing’s son took to Twitter on Thursday with this completely justified tweet:

I’m no expert on NBA head coaches, but it boggles my mind that Ewing hasn’t been named a head man yet while Kidd is already one. Ewing’s spent a decade as an NBA assistant, is routinely hailed as a great assistant to big men like Yao Ming and Dwight Howard and is much more worthy of a shot than one of these recycled coaches like Byron Scott or Maurice Cheeks, who somehow keep getting hired despite repeatedly failing.

I think a large part of it is not racism but stereotypes in general. Kidd is regarded as one of the smartest point guards to ever play the game and is following in the footsteps of fellow ex-NBA point guard Mark Jackson, who has taken the Golden State Warriors to new heights despite no previous experience.

In Ewing, I believe NBA executives have a hard time seeing a head coach because, as Ewing himself has suggested, he’s been pigeonholed as nothing more than a “big man coach” like Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. Centers aren’t considered to have the IQs of point guards, and Ewing is seen as a bristly person dating back to his days as a player.

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With Ewing about to endure what will surely be a season from hell as associate head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, I suggest he stick both middle fingers up to the league and take a college head coaching job to prove his value to NBA owners and general managers if he gets passed over again in 2014. Because at this point, it appears he’s either going to to wait a lot longer for an NBA head job or end up in a position where he’s doomed to fail.

Look at what ex-NBA guard Fred Hoiberg has done at Iowa State. In just three seasons, Hoiberg has turned the Cyclones into a solid basketball program that nearly advanced to the Sweet Sixteen this past March. That alone has NBA front offices drooling so much that Hoiberg can basically pick the NBA job of his choice whenever he decides to leave college basketball.

Ewing obviously won’t be able to get a job at his alma mater like Hoiberg (John Thompson III is firmly entrenched at Georgetown), but there should be plenty of top-notch head coaching openings next year for him to consider, including Wake Forest (just up the road from Charlotte), Boston College (he grew up in Massachusetts) and DePaul (a sleeping giant located in a great city).

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With the big number of BCS conference jobs in college basketball and the high amount of turnover these days in the sport, there’s no doubt in my mind Ewing could have a solid power conference coaching job at this time next year if he wanted one.

And I’d fully expect him to produce the same results as Hoiberg. Ewing has experience coaching at the NBA level, access to great assistants and the ability to walk into the homes of recruits and potential transfers as one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players in NBA History. (Personally, I’m already dreaming of all-Georgetown-center assistants in Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Othella Harrington.)

If Ewing had the success I envision for him at the college level, he would have NBA teams knocking on his door within as little as two years instead of the other way around and have the experience of being a head coach under his belt. Who knows: At that point, maybe Ewing will decide he prefers sticking to the college game rather than the politics involved with getting an NBA job and an insanely unforgiving league where even the Coach of the Year is fired.

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate revenge?

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Jim Weber is the founder of Lost Lettermen. You can follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber and @LostLettermen.

 
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