Ewing Meets Media

Ewing Meets Media
June 19, 2013

(Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to join Head Coach Steve Clifford here with the Charlotte Bobcats?)
It’s great to be here and it’s great to be with Cliff (Coach Clifford). He and I have been working together for about nine years. We have a great relationship – not only our working relationship but our friendship has been great.

(How important is it to have that kind of a bond with a guy in this league at this level?)
It’s always good to work with people you know, people who are going to have your back and tell you the things that you need to know. That’s the kind of relationship that we have. It’s both ways, it’s not one sided, he always tells me things that he sees I need to work on and I do the same with him.

(Throughout the course of your career you were not only known as one of the best big men ever but you also had a chance to coach some pretty solid big men. When you look at this Bobcats roster inside we’ve needed some work. What do you say we need to change inside?)
It’s too early to talk about what we need to change. We have some good players here and we’re going to try to develop them the best that we can and hopefully improve on what they did last year. We’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work that needs to be put in and not only the players but also the coaching staff.

(When you look at the way things worked out for you, you were here last year and talked to the team, are you surprised that a year later you get an opportunity to come back and be a part of this?)
I was surprised. Number one, I’m happy for Cliff. I think he’s an outstanding coach and they did a great job in picking him as the head coach. I feel blessed to be working with him. I’m working for that guy – number 23, my old time friend and nemesis (Michael Jordan), and Rich and Rod – I’m looking forward to working with everybody.

(Does working with that guy put a little more pressure on you because of the relationship you’ve had?)
Oh I’m going to put the pressure on him! Michael was a great player, a great friend and he’s a very good owner and we want to please.

(How nice was it to get out here today and have some basketball activity?)
It was good, it was good to sit here and watch these guys. When I was coming out of school we didn’t have a lot of this stuff, all these (pre-draft workouts) we didn’t do. When I was coming out I got picked number one and then I started my workouts, but now you’ve got to work all these guys out and see what they can do because a lot of them are one-and-dones. You have to make sure you do your homework and get the pick right.

(You’ve been a coach for a long time now, what message do you bring to players when they’re coming into the league today?)
Work. Every year just try to get better. That’s what I did, don’t just think I was a great high school or college player and it’s going to translate to the NBA. All the best players don’t stop working once they get here - You’ve got to keep working on your game and your craft.

(With all the positions that were available, are you surprised you didn’t get more of a chance with head coaching positions?)
I was surprised I didn’t get any interviews, but it is what it is and I’m happy that I’m here. I had other opportunities to go place and I chose to come here not only because of the friendship and working relationship that I have with coach but also the ownership and Rod and Rich.

(Do you think former big men who are coaches get pigeon holed and don’t get credit for knowing the whole game?)
They do get pigeon holed, how many big men have you seen in the last 10 years get jobs? Phil Jackson, (Kevin) McHale – apart from that there’s none.

(Why is there the presumption that guards would see the game better as coaches than you (as a big man) would?)
You’re guess is as good as mine. I guess they think that because the guard is running the team that they’re the leader because they’re the one barking out the offensive orders, but they don’t see what the big men do. We also are the leaders - I barked out the defensive orders and called out some of the plays also. I just want an opportunity, just like anybody else…I can help everybody, that’s one of the things when I first started coaching I would tell everyone I didn’t want to be pigeon holed into being just a big man’s coach. I don’t see myself as just a big man’s coach even though that’s the position that I played and I’m very knowledgeable about it. I will be working with the big men, but I’m not just a big man’s coach. I can help anyone. Van Gundy when he coached me in New York, does that make him just a big man’s coach?

(Are you excited about the possibilities here?)
I’m excited about being here. I think they’re going to try to upgrade the roster to give us more help. Cliff, the staff and I are all excited and ready to improve. We want to get it back to the way it used to be when they were the Hornets. The fans here are anxious, I was walking through the airport and fans were yelling “congratulation, we want you here!” I’m happy to be here and we want to bring back the days of Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry. We want the crowd to be just like those days – just as excited.  

Head Coach Steve Clifford on Bobcats Associate Head Coach Patrick Ewing

(When you were hired you told us about how excited you were to get going, is it nice to get your feet wet as you guys prepare for this draft?)
To be honest, the two biggest things I’m most excited about are one, the attitude of our players so far. I’ve had a chance to either met or spend time with all of them and I like where they’re at. We’ve had a chance to talk about their approach for the summer – I think we’ve got a lot of guys who are serious players and committed to having good summers. Then the second thing is that our staff is coming together – we’re not all there yet – but I feel really good about the possibilities and the caliber of the staff we’re going to have.

(How is it to have Patrick (Ewing) back with you coaching?)
It’s great, my thing about Patrick is we both worked for Jeff (Van Gundy) in Houston and Stan (Van Gundy) in Orlando, and he can help me in every phase of what I need to do. We believe in the same process, we share beliefs about what it takes to win in this league and I’ve spent so much time with him talking about offense, defense, how you practice or what’s the best way to do a shoot around for nine years. Again, we’re on the same page and we have great communication both professionally and personally so there’s nothing that he can’t help me with. It was an important hire for our staff, for the players and for myself.

(Is Stephen (Silas) sticking around as well?)
Yes, Stephen and I first met 13 years ago when we scouted together. This is not a league where you really worry about contacts, if you’re going to be good at your job you’ve got to be locked into your team, but he’s one of the few guys that I’ve always stayed in touch with. He’s experienced, knowledgeable and I feel fortunate that he’ll stay with us.