Patrick Ewing Has 'Nothing to Say' About Charles Oakley Saying He Cost Knicks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

HOUSTON - JUNE 19:  Charles Oakley #34 and Patrick Ewing #33 of the New York Knicks wait for the rebound  during Game Six of the NBA Finals played on June 19, 1994 at the The Summit in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1994 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Former New York Knicks star Patrick Ewing said Thursday he doesn't want to engage in verbal warfare with Charles Oakley, who blamed the center's reluctance to pass when double-teamed for the team's elimination at the hands of the Chicago Bulls in the 1993 NBA playoffs. 

Oakley told Marc Berman of the New York Post that Ewing's shot selection "hurt us" in an Eastern Conference Final series won 4-2 by Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The 11-time All-Star responded during an appearance on Sportsnet's Good Show (via Berman).

"I have nothing to say about what Charles has to say," Ewing said. "He's one of my best teammates. We went into a lot of wars and a lot of wars against the Bulls. So everyone is entitled to their own opinion."

From a pure statistical perspective, it's hard to find much blame in Ewing's performance against the Bulls in that series, which was recently highlighted in ESPN's The Last Dance documentary.

He averaged 25.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals while shooting 53 percent from the field across the six games. He posted those numbers despite playing 41.8 minutes per contest, a tall task for a 7'0'', 255-pound center who was nearing 100 total games that season.

Jeff Van Gundy, who was a Knicks assistant during the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals and later became the team's head coach, came to Ewing's defense Monday during an appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio (via SNY's Ian Begley):

"I think we have amnesia, sometimes, as Knick people, just to how good Ewing was and how well he played. If you're going to be compared to Jordan, then everybody's going to come up short. But if you're compared to a level of greatness?

"I went back and watched the games and looked at the stats because it was intriguing to me, from other people's recollection, 'I was like, this guy is unbelievable.' Even back then, how people try to portray Patrick as not coming through in the clutch. And I'm like, 'Hold on, I was there at every game. I remember this guy carrying us on a nightly basis.'"

Oakley, who spent three years playing alongside Jordan in Chicago from 1985 through 1988, said he still talks to his former teammate about that famed series, per Berman.

"We should've beaten them and we didn't beat them," he said. "The Bulls got a lot of calls. I tell that to Michael to this day. The league's best player will get all the calls when he needed to. But Michael made shots. It wasn't like he was getting to the rim and dunking on us. He had a couple of dunks. But that was only two dunks he had in the half-court offense."

Jordan and the Bulls went on to beat the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals for their third straight championship. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to Chicago in 1995 and led the franchise to another three-peat to bring his career total to six titles.

Meanwhile, the Knicks' strong teams of the '90s could never raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy despite making the playoffs every year of the decade. They reached the Finals twice, losing to the Houston Rockets in 1994 and the San Antonio Spurs in 1999, but the team's title drought still extends to 1973.