Patrick Ewing Jr. following a tougher NBA path than his dad

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comJuly 8, 2013 

You really don’t want to mess with Patrick Ewing – Senior or Junior.

There was a prideful way 7-foot Ewing, the dad, played in assembling a Hall of Fame NBA career. His namesake wasn’t blessed with as much height or talent, but he inherited the attitude.

Some West Virginia basketball fans learned as much when they constantly badgered Ewing, Jr., while he played for Georgetown.

“The whole pregame they were heckling me and heckling me. I blocked a shot to win that game,’’ said the 6-8 Ewing, on the Charlotte Bobcats’ summer-league roster. “My favorite part of the game was me waving at the guys who heckled at me, ‘Goodbye!’’ as I’m running off the court.’’

It was hard growing up with that name, particularly when he made basketball his sport, too. But he’s better for the experience.

“I had to live up to an expectation, something unrealistic, but something for me to stride for,’’ said Patrick, Jr., who played for Indiana before transferring to his father’s alma mater. “It wasn’t easy, but it made me push myself harder than I would have.’’

They’re together again – Patrick, Sr., the Bobcats’ new associate head coach and Patrick, Jr., trying to earn an invitation to Bobcats training camp.

This isn’t a new dynamic for this franchise: Cory Higgins, son of president of basketball operations Rod Higgins, played point guard for the Bobcats two seasons ago. Former head coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Paul Silas both had their sons on staff.

Patrick, Jr., says he overcompensates for any perceived nepotism. He tends to keep his distance from his dad during practices and prefers that his father tends to be at least as hard on him as any other player.

This isn’t the first time they’ve been in this situation: Ewing, Jr., played for the Orlando Magic summer team in 2010 when his father coached there, too.

“I curse him when he needs it and pat him on the back when he needs it, same as any player,’’ said Patrick, Sr. “But the emotion is always going to be there. You want the best for him.’’

Patrick, Jr., was a second-round pick of the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 draft. He’s bounced around the Development League and European basketball, looking to get back to the NBA. His longest NBA experience was in the winter and spring of the 2010-11 season, filling in for the injured David West as a New Orleans Hornet.

Patrick, Sr., said it was more emotional watching his son play for Georgetown.

“In the stands, I was probably more nervous,’’ he recalled. “Then you’re just a parent wanting him to do well.’’

The loyalty runs deep both ways. After the Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd as head coach, with no previous coaching experience, Patrick, Jr., tweeted out his frustration that his father hadn’t gotten a similar opportunity after 10 seasons as an assistant.

Patrick, Jr., says his comments were misconstrued, in that he wasn’t knocking the Nets selecting Kidd. Rather he wondered why none of the dozen or so NBA teams hiring head coaches considered his father.

“I don’t regret it at all. That’s my dad,’’ he said. “Twitter is one of those things where you can let things out you want known. That’s something I wanted known.’’

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