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Keidel: Hopefully The Kings Finally Reward Ewing For Paying His Dues

By Jason Keidel
» More Columns

Sports are often hailed for innovation and inclusion. Yet when it comes to head coaches, it seems every pro sports league forever has its hand buried in the recycling bin.

That's not to say that coaches, like most professionals, don't deserve second chances. But it almost seems as if being fired is a prerequisite for being hired these days.

It's simply time for new blood in the NBA.

So if Kurt Rambis can get three coaching gigs, why can't Patrick Ewing get one? If Byron Scott is still seen as desirable, how could Ewing not be? If Luke Walton, 18 years Ewing's junior, is the hottest coaching commodity on Earth, why can't someone give the the comer Knicks big man a shot?

No one doubts Ewing's NBA bona fides. One of the 50 greatest players in league history, Ewing has learned under a conga line of coaching luminaries, including John Thompson, Hubie Brown, Rick Pitino, Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy.

Maybe Ewing suffers from some deficiency that makes him subtly unsuitable for head coaching. If he is, we don't know about it.

What we do know is that he's toiled on benches for well over a decade and hasn't been seriously considered for a spot just one seat over. Ever since he retired in 2002, we've seen Ewing pinball around the map, from Washington D.C. to Houston to Orlando to Charlotte (his current home), riding the pine and biding his time.

Ewing is now pining for the Sacramento Kings job. For his sake, you almost hope he fails, yet again. Along with his former team, the Knicks, it's harder to think of a more dysfunctional basketball family. Or one with more iterations.

The Sacramento Kings, who reportedly were to interview Ewing for their vacant head coach opening this week, don't just lose, they do it with soap operatic style. Just look at the Hatfield/McCoy feud between former coach George Karl and star forward DeMarcus Cousins.

The Kings never live up to their moniker, and haven't won a title or even contended for one since Chris Webber and Mike Bibby made the Lakers sweat for a season or two.

In a sense, the fit is perfect, as both the Kings and Ewing have been basketball gypsies. If you think Ewing's tour has been extensive, the Kings have bounced around the nation longer than the NBA has existed, playing in Rochester, Cincinnati, Omaha, Kansas City and, now, Sacramento.

But what owners and GMs seem to adore as much as winning is stability. Ewing is the picture of persistence. Ever since he broke into the league with that dubious lottery that ushered him to the Big Apple, Ewing has been about the grind. His sweaty brow has been a metaphor for his entire basketball career.

Ewing has been everything we ask of our sports heroes. He's been hard-working, humble, noble, and tireless. His reward? Places on the wrong part of the bench.

We all know Ewing belongs in the Big Apple, where he made his name and perfected his game. For whatever reason, that relationship has decayed beyond repair. So the next best (or next worst) job seems to be with the Kings, who will have no shortage of potential candidates.

Maybe Sacramento will do Ewing a solid and make him wait one more year, until the right gig opens for a good guy, who has paid more dues than anyone.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel

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