1982 was the first of many times that Michael Jordan would get the best of Patrick Ewing. Jordan's shot in the national championship set in motion Ewing's career as Jordan's speed bump. However, on Tuesday his connection to Jordan paid off when he was named associate head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. However, Jordan and Ewing nearly linked up 30 years earlier down the road in Chapel Hill.
Via New York Daily News:
"You know, I was close [to attending UNC]. I was close. North Carolina was a very good school but, you know, when I went down there they put me in that Carolina Inn and there was a big Ku Klux Klan rally in North Carolina when I was there," Ewing said. "And I'm like, 'You know what? I'm not coming down here. I'm staying my butt back in Boston.'"
"So the reason why you didn't go (to UNC), or the major reason, is the KKK had a rally going on at the time?" Patrick asked.
"Big rally man. I was like... They stuck me in that Carolina Inn. And at night down in North Carolina it gets pitch black and I hear all the crickets and I'm jumping, I'm like 'what the heck?' I said, 'Nah, I'm going home.'"
Had Ewing paired with Sam Perkins, James Worthy and Jordan in UNC, Jordan's Tar Heels may have gotten greedy with the national championships and Thompson may not sport the national legacy he does today. There is one thing you have to understand about Patrick Ewing. Going back to his youth in Boston, he's witnessed flagrant racism and was particularly sensitive to it. Hence, his reasoning to play for John Thompson II is much more clear in retrospect. These "what if" scenarios could take you down a rabbit hole of chain reactions, but it doesn't matter now. It worked out for everyone involved.