Dan Grunfeld and Patrick Ewing, Jr: Living in Their Fathers' Shadows

Gabe PodairContributor IOctober 14, 2008

What makes professional sports so great?

Is it the history of the sport?  How about the fans that watch the sport?

Both of these characteristics of the sport contribute to the atmosphere and make watching sports so intriguing.  But what about the players?

Throughout every sport there are always a select group of standout players. In basketball it might be the great Michael Jordan, or in baseball it might be Babe Ruth. These players have had extremely successful sports careers by winning championships and awards. But what about their kids? All of this talent, does it transfer from the father to the son?

Patrick Ewing is currently an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets, and was recently inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. He was an 11-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and was mentioned in the NBA's Top 50 players of all time.

So after all of this success, shouldn’t his son Patrick Ewing Jr. have similar success? No.

Despite his father's success, Patrick Ewing Jr. is a meager 6'8" compared to his fathers towering 7'0" stature. Don’t get me wrong, 6'8 is huge—even for an NBA player.

But how about Patrick Ewing Jr.'s skill? His father, after never touching a basketball, learned to play the great game during his adolescent years in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After mastering the game of basketball at a high school level, Patrick decided to play Division I basketball at Georgetown University.

At Georgetown, Ewing thrived as a basketball player which resulted in him being picked number-one overall in the 1985 NBA draft by the New York Knicks.

After transferring from University of Indiana to Georgetown, following his father's footsteps, the only difference Junior and is father is the success each one had playing basketball at Georgetown.

Patrick Ewing, Jr. averaged 4.1 points his first year and 6.1 points his second year at Georgetown, compared to Patrick Ewing's 15.3 points over four years at Georgetown.

Patrick Ewing, Jr. was raised by one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Shouldn’t some of the skill portrayed by Ewing transfer to his son? After all his adolescent years, Patrick Ewing never taught his secrets to his son?

Ernie Grunfeld, a former basketball player for the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Kansas City Kings, is another example of a father's success overshadowing his son.

In high school, Grunfeld was one of the most highly-recruited basketball players in the nation. He was compared to NBA greats such as Bernard King, who he grew up with in New York City.

In the NBA he was known for his superior three-point shooting and his extremely high free-throw percentage. He was so good in the NBA, that he was chosen to represent the United States in the 1976 Olympics and won the Gold Medal.

Similar to the situation between Patrick Ewing and his son, Grunfelds' son, Dan was also overshadowed by his father’s success. Recruited to play for Stanford University, he was a key contributor to the Cardinal's basketball success.

Although successful in college, Dan Grunfeld went undrafted and was forced to play basketball overseas, something his father did not have to do. In 2008, after being signed to an undisclosed non-guaranteed contract by the New York Knicks, it seems as though Dan Grunfeld will be cut by the Knicks. His hardships in basketball continue.

Players like Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Dan Grunfeld have tremendous potential. They are great players. Patrick Ewing, Jr. has amazing jumping ability and plays exceptional defense, while Dan Grunfeld followed in his father footsteps with a smooth stroke.

This article is not about how bad both Patrick Ewing, Jr and Dan Grunfeld are. It is about how they do not get a fair shot at being their own player. Since growing up each of them were expected to become great basketball players.

The media is not giving these players a fair shot. Both players can contribute great things to NBA teams, but before they do that they need to be given a chance to become their own player, not Patrick Ewing’s son or Ernie Grunfeld's son.