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Patrick Ewing Says He Wanted to Be Drafted by Knicks, Warriors in 1985 NBA Draft

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 12, 2020

FILE - In this June 18, 1985, file photo, Patrick Ewing accepts his New York Knicks jersey from Dave DeBusschere, right, general manager of the Knicks, as NBA commissioner David Stern look on, at the NBA Draft in New York. The NBA draft lottery debuted 30 years ago. The 2015 NBA draft lottery will take place in New York on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)
MARTY LEDERHANDLER/Associated Press

The 1985 NBA draft lottery remains one of the most epic moments in league history. A night when franchises were changed forever and the draft process as it was known became totally upended. 

Patrick Ewing was the man at the center of it all. As the No. 1 prospect in the country, whoever won the draft won Ewing. That turned out to be the New York Knicks—though they weren't the big man's first choice. 

Speaking to Frank Isola on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Ewing recalled what was going through his mind as he huddled in the office of Georgetown coach John Thompson to hear the results.

"We were all there watching and waiting," Ewing said. "First I wanted to go to Golden State because Eric Floyd played there and he was a teammate of mine at Georgetown. And the next one was the Knicks. Once Golden State didn't win, I definitely wanted to go to the Knicks."

When the No. 1 pick came down to the Indiana Pacers or New York, Ewing said he was pleading to let it be the Knicks who won the draft. There didn't seem to be anything personal against Indiana. Ewing was just an East Coast kid through-and-through. He had friends and family in New York and Boston and would now have easy access to Washington, D.C., where he played his college ball.

Unfortunately, the Pacers would remain a factor in Ewing's life throughout his NBA career—giving the league intense battles between Reggie Miller and New York for much of the 1990s. 

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In the moment, once the Knicks were revealed to have won the lottery, there wasn't much time for celebrating. For Ewing, it was more a chance to exhale. 

"I really wasn't thinking about anything," Ewing said. "I was just happy it was over. That day was over. The next chapter of my life was getting ready to start."

Now Golden State fans are forced to grapple with what could have been knowing Ewing preferred the Warriors at first. 

The 1985 draft lottery took place only a few years before the combination of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin formed Run TMC in the Bay Area. Adding Ewing to that roster is mind-blowing, but it's hard to believe everything else falls in place if that were to happen. 

Fortunately, things seemed to work out for all sides here. Except New York, which is still looking for its first NBA title since 1973.