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Scathing article on Ewing, and Hakeem.

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Dreamshake, Aug 29, 2000.

  1. Dreamshake

    Dreamshake Member

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    Some unpleasant things are said about Hakeems upcoming season. Especially the last line of the article.


    Old stars need to be nudged into the sunset
    AUGUST 29, 2000

    Ira Winderman
    For The Sporting News


    Robert Seale/TSN

    Hakeem Olajuwon says he'll likely return for a 17th season in Houston.

    get this photo



    There was outrage, indignation and nastiness. Then there was silence and fence mending.

    Such was the swirl last week that followed the revelation that franchise mainstay Patrick Ewing not only would accept a trade from the Knicks, but that New York was more than willing to accommodate such a prospect.

    To have witnessed the maelstrom that resulted from the potential severing of ties was, in a way, to have repeated history.

    Just over a year ago, we were in the same position, considering the same possibilities. The franchise center was Hakeem Olajuwon. The franchise that hung in the balance was the Rockets.

    For days, reports leaked from Houston and Toronto that an end of an era was at hand. The particulars were these: As a means of reducing their salary-cap burden, the Rockets would ship Olajuwon to the Raptors for Doug Christie and Kevin Willis.

    This was not rumor. This was every bit as real as the Ewing-Vin Baker saga that, at one point last week, included a cast of thousands, everyone from Glen Rice to the NBA's lone Cuban refugee, Lazaro Borrell.

    Ultimately, Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said no to ousting Olajuwon. For better or worse.

    "It would be very hard for me to be the guy who pulls the trigger on something like that," he said at the time, foreshadowing the emotion of a year later in New York. "We've been through a lot together."

    Sentiment survived.

    But have the Rockets?

    I offer the background as a basis for debate when it comes to Ewing, 38.

    The Rockets proved loyal, loyal to a lottery fault. Olajuwon, 37, last season proved to be an injury-ravaged shell of his former self, a 10-point scorer left in the wake of Steve Francis so often that there was a collective groan when the one-time Dream announced he likely would return for a 17th season.

    While his initial appearance in 2000-2001 would allow Olajuwon to break the NBA record along with Utah's John Stockton for years spent with a single NBA franchise, it will be a hollow milestone for a franchise that clearly has played the same hand too long.

    All of that brings us back to Ewing, whose trade gambit caused former Knicks teammate Mark Jackson to remark, "How can you be a better team without Patrick Ewing, one of the greatest centers to ever play the game?"

    How? Because Ewing was one of the greatest to play the game. His legacy is past tense, not as decidedly as Olajuwon's, but past tense nonetheless.

    To carry the parallel further, like Olajuwon, Ewing hardly has been a paragon of team-first virtue. As Olajuwon has, Ewing has had his contract contretemps over the years, making money every bit as much an issue as team loyalty.

    That's why the Ewing issue became an issue in the first place.

    Had Ewing willingly proceeded to the end of his contract without a public pitch for two more seasons, this entire passion play could have been avoided for a year.

    With another serviceable season, another contract likely would have been extended.

    By contrast, with additional injuries, perhaps reality would have hit home, with an honorable end to a single-team career. He could have been given the same type of moment Dan Marino was offered last week in Miami.

    And that cuts to the crux of the Ewing enigma.

    On one hand, Ewing has spent much of his career in search of unconditional adoration. On the other hand, he has made little effort to create such terms of endearment.

    Putting aside Ewing's unease around the media still leaves no place for last week's "Good Riddance" back page of the New York Post.

    But acceptance also is a by-product of making the off-court effort.

    Within the playing fraternity, Ewing has been beloved. Within the coaching fraternity, the adoration has been nearly unconditional from mentors such as Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy.

    Beyond the court, though, he has created few connections with fans. Even in an era dominated by Michael Jordan, others were able to forge that bond. Other big men. Others with even nastier dispositions. Pistons fans adored Bill Laimbeer. Heat fans relish the fire of Alonzo Mourning. Shaq has managed to cast himself as a lovable lug.

    But not Patrick Ewing. There seemingly always has been an alternate soul of the city, from John Starks to Charles Oakley to Latrell Sprewell.

    Ewing has been admired at the Garden, but others have been embraced.

    What has been overstated, however, is the lack of a championship. No one begrudges Ewing for what he has failed to accomplish. The list of similar frustrations -- those of Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley -- have been far too chronicled to add weight to such minimization. Without Ewing, the Knicks never would have made it past the Heat in the playoffs the last two seasons

    As a means of comparison, Olajuwon delivered two championships to Houston. But do you think that will ease the pain of what Rockets fans may have to endure this season, a once-great warrior wheezing his way to the finish?

    The point is that there is a time for change, an honorable juncture when a franchise mainstay should release a team from its emotional burden, and a proper moment when an organization should be able to move in another direction.

    Had Olajuwon been sent to Toronto last summer, virtually all of the Houston memories would have been of relentless grace, of a steady stride, of championship celebrations.

    Similarly, that time also arrived for Ewing and the Knicks. To listen to general manager Scott Layden stammer his way through an explanation of how the four-way deal with the SuperSonics, Pistons and Lakers fell apart was almost as difficult to listen to as Ewing's heightened personal expectations in the midst of declining productivity.

    When the Knicks and Ewing came to the realization that the timing was right for a parting, it was one of the rare times in recent years when the front office and the franchise center were on the same page.

    It is a book that should be closed.

    Any additional pages only will provide an ugly epitaph.

    If you disagree, witness only the final chapter of what is to play out in Houston.

    Ira Winderman covers the Heat for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and The Sporting News. Dave D'Alessandro's column will return next week.



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    "I have amazing, powers of observation"...Pink
     
  2. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Member

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    I take that article for what its worth, NOTHING. He covers the Miami Heat for chrissakes!!!

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    In order to be a success in life, you need 2 things:
    1. Don't tell everything you know.
     
  3. GATER

    GATER Member

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    I think when Ira Winderman was typing the article he had to use the spell checker everytime he went to use any derivative of the word LOYAL.

    IMHO, Rudy did the right thing. Shandon saw it, Cat saw it, I think Mo saw it, too. The decision wasn't without a price, but you can bet alot of players took notice. Trading Dream would have been easily understood by those who have come to expect mediocrity and ordinary as a decision making style.

    I am uncertain about Dreams potential for this coming season. I am very certain that the season could never be worse than seeing a poster of Dream in any other uniform.





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    GATER
     
  4. 4chuckie

    4chuckie Member

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    If you run the team like a business then we made a mistake in not trading him.
    Fortunately/unfortunately the Rockets are run more like a family where loyalty does mean something.
    I don't know if we did the right/wrong thing. On one hand it would have been nice to have the picks, but then again I would never want to see Dream in another uniform.

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  5. kissofdeath

    kissofdeath Member

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    This may be a tough year to watch Dream if he is still beset with health problems. However, how sweet will it be if he is a 13-8-2 man on the year and he is able to say goodbye on his own terms and in the playoffs?

    i'm pulling for Dream

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  6. SamCassell

    SamCassell Member

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    Dude needs to put down his crackpipe. It must hurt, covering the Heat year after year and seeing your team flame out of the playoffs in spectacular fashion.

    "Sentiment survived. But have the Rockets?" Yes.

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  7. Sane

    Sane Member

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    what an absolute idiot.....If this guy was running an NBA franchise, even the bulls would mock him....who would sign for him?

    the fact is, not trading Hakeem helped us show that we're a SUPER place to sign....Like Miami, and Phoenix.....When players come here, they'll know they're important to the organization, we'll take care of them......and Hakeem isn't gonna be half as bad as this guy is making him out to be.......

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  8. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Well, if a team was forcing someone into early retirement, he would probably freak out and call them agists or ask why it is that sports have come to this.

    To me, the Patrick Ewing saga is old and boring. He wouldn't have gotten this kind of press in Milwaukee or even Houston. But, being in NYC, they turn it into a horror story and we have to read and hear about it every freakin' day. Give it up already.

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    Save Our Rockets and Comets
    SaveOurRockets.com
     
  9. oeilpere

    oeilpere Member

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    Damn, Let's call it like it is:

    I know I risk being berated and befuddled with crud and crap from a lot of you here when I post this .... but I have posted and defended this several times before (under at least one other name) and will do so again now.

    I love Hakeem and fully appreciate everything he has done for the sport and this franchise. I also am thankful for having been exposed to him in other settings. I have met him several times. I have been priviledged to speak to him on occasions, although usually on benign and superfulous casual subjects.

    He would be the first to say he is a man. And only a man. He is not infallible. He is also very prideful. He is multi-facted in enterprise and commerce. He and by extension his many concerns, industries, community efforts and sponsored programs are predicated on this public figure that he presents to the fans and media. Please keep all of this mind when you read on.

    Hakeem knew about the deal with Toronto. He had given his approval to the seeking of the trade in principle. HE WAS INVOLVED. Well in advance. At one time Vancover was the target, but that fell through.

    When Toronto became the focus, Hakeem asked for a couple of concessions, (they actually mirror some of the same things that Ewing has been jumped all over for). He wanted a contract extension, and a few other non-game related issues. Toronto did not say no. But they did not say yes,either. The discussions progressed.

    The talks and the offer with some of the component players names (including Hakeem's) were eventually leaked to the press. You can be assured it did not come from the Rockets Organization end of the negotiations. Once the press got it ... timing and critical spin were engaged.

    Immediately, Hakeem's repersentitives asked again for some direct answer from Toronto on the restructuring of his contract. They balked. Hakeem went to Rudy and told him he would NOT be a willing participant in this trade. In short, making it a franchise public relations nightmare, if they went through with the trade. This was the night before RT's infamous showing in the press room.

    Enter Rudy to the press room. He was distraught. He was angry. He was saddened. He He was worn out. He took the brunt of the press accusations that the Rockets had turned their back on Hakeem.

    In fact, Hakeem owes him bigtime. RT remained distraught and eventually took a long vacation. It was NOT a good summer for RT.

    Rudy lied for his friend. He said he could not pull the trigger on it, when in fact Hakeem was the one that could not pull the trigger.

    I will not answer the same questions or accusations that were served up over a year ago. But yes I saw and read the Hakeem media article when he stated he was not totally aware of the trade. I saw the televised interview with Hakeem when he said he found out about the deal the same time as you (the press) and the fans.

    Yes, I am saying Hakeem lied.

    Well, sort of ... I think he found out that he would not have any leverage on renegotiating his contract on his terms when Toronto confirmed the blockbuster deal. I think then, and only then did he realize the full effect of going to another team. But I know for a fact he knew of the deal before it got even got close to the "ooops, someone get me out of this" stage. He was aware of it. Endorsed it in principle. Then he did everything he could to stop it 24 hours before the Rocket press conference. He called in his favors with the Rockets.

    Please stop this betrayal card that is played everytime someone brings up the "trade that the fans stopped", "the Rocket trade that turned their backs on a great star" or any other foolish tag line. All of the adults were aware of what was going on ... including the sports figure-c*m-businessman-c*m local hero Hakeem.

    This deal fell through because the person, the human being who evryone is attempting to hold as the victim, wanted more money.

    The one disappointment I carry from Hakeem is this. He had an opportunity to clear it all, admit he was acting as any common sports figure, attempting to put money in the place of honor and he listened to his advisors and let RT and the Rockets take the flak.

    I still love the guy, but I hope he will rectify that Rocket impression someday.

    Cheers.
     
  10. New Jack

    New Jack Member

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    If Hakeem were willing to leave then I would have been willing to trade him.

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    You ain't gotta like me, you just mad cause I tell it how it is, and you tell it how it might be.
     
  11. verse

    verse Member

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    oeilpere,

    well, you know hakeem's a god & beyond reproach around here. shoooooot, you might get banned for that truth. personally, i want to give you a badge of honor.

    the man is not beyond reproach.

    i was for trading him then, i won't lie. only because he was more than ok with it. at this pt, of course, i wouldn't, but i do think he should retire.....NOW.

    save your legacy from shame. be remember for more than walking up court, not bending for loose balls, and not jumping for rebounds.


    DON'T DO THE KAREEM!!!

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    miles ahead of the rest
     
  12. TheFreak

    TheFreak Member

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    Hakeem is not a god, nor is he beyond reproach. I think he does deserve to not have damaging speculation about him passed off as fact though.
     
  13. SamCassell

    SamCassell Member

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    Freak, great post. I completely agree.

    As for me, I will remember Hakeem for more than his last few, injury-riddled years. One would have to have a pitifully short memory to do otherwise.

    And I remember Kareem for more than just walking up court. Airplane - now that was a great movie!

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  14. Moe

    Moe Member

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    OP,
    If what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, then my respect for Rudy has taken another leap. To accept blame to protect someone else is about as noble as you can get in my book.
    This also does not diminish Hakeem in my eyes. As you pointed out, he is a man and we all have faults. I never thought him to be perfect, as I don't think Rudy is perfect. I would still hate to see Hakeem in any other uniform other than the Rockets.

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  15. oeilpere

    oeilpere Member

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    Freak

    ".... Hakeem is not a god, nor is he beyond reproach. I think he does deserve to not have damaging speculation about him passed off as fact though ...."

    I too deserve not to have damaging speculation about my assertations, but then I am not a media sports star. So be it. I did expect criticism. I did expect some posters to hide their heads in dismal self righteous indignity rather than face the fact that people, even some we all hold to a higher level of praise, sometimes fall. It is called being human. Both the frailiity of heroes and the narrow-mindedness of their worshippers.

    If you would rather accept your own speculation of someone's conduct than my assertation of fact, then please do so. My poiint was not to disparge Hakeem but have some posters stop blaming the others, including Rockets for a attempting to take him from us.
    SamCassell

    " ... Freak, great post. I completely agree. As for me, I will remember Hakeem for more than his last few, injury-riddled years. One would have to have a pitifully short memory to do otherwise...."

    I too remember Hakeem in fondness, but I also accept his inevidable injury-ridden years, his human failings, right along side his spectacular displays of athleticism. One would have to have pitifully small adoration only to accept one without the balance of the other.

    Moe

    " ... This also does not diminish Hakeem in my eyes. As you pointed out, he is a man and we all have faults. I never thought him to be perfect, as I don't think Rudy is perfect. I would still hate to see Hakeem in any other uniform other than the Rockets...."

    I agree, of course. It does not seem right, that the choice of ending a splendid career in a hometown uniform or the evidable culmination to a business agreement. I am glad I never had to make the distinction. Or the decision.

    A man once said to me: "A man should never be called to answer his faults, but to explain their abscence. In the end we are just human. We are made to make mistakes. Wise or uneducated. That is the only way we learn. "

    PS: That man was Hakeem by the way.
     
  16. Since75

    Since75 Member

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    OP, I like yourself was aware of the facts you indicated in your post, however, the spin was just a bit different. I have always been and will always be a huge Dream fan. He is not without faults. Rudy is loyal to a fault, but he also is not without faults. The NBA is a business and Dream in his attempt to agree to the deal used whatever leverage he had to work out the best deal for himself. It is no secret that Dream has indicated in the past that he would like to live in Canada upon retiring. There are personal reasons that are involved in his choice of Canada as well, however, most people will never know what those reasons are. Again I appreciate your candor about the situation and your having the fortitude to express your thoughts.

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  17. oeilpere

    oeilpere Member

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    Sam I Am

    Oh.

    Well as Gilda Radner once chimed ....

    Oh ... that's different ... hummph ... ah ... ummmm ... never mind!


    [​IMG]
     
  18. SamCassell

    SamCassell Member

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    OP,

    [​IMG] Lol.

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  19. Since75

    Since75 Member

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  20. SamCassell

    SamCassell Member

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    Sailor man,

    Of course I accept all those things. My comment was more to the statement verse made saying "save your legacy from shame. be remember for more than walking up court, not bending for loose balls, and not jumping for rebounds." I think one remembers all those things about a player - the good, the bad, the ugly.

    Age is just a fact of life. Not every star has the Michael Jordan (or, Cynthia Cooper) knack of playing great for us, and then retiring before their skills measurably erode. To me, its not a black mark for a player to get older, slower. To play ball for a little longer than they "should" because they enjoy the game, and don't want to stop. Because, whatever their business acumen is, however prepared they are for a career after playing, this is WHAT THEY DO BEST. We've seen Clyde try his hand at coaching college ball, Michael attempt to play baseball (and, try his hand at being a GM), etc. I want Dream to play until he is ready to quit, and I'm not ashamed to have him on my team in 2000.

    I'm afraid the esteem that I hold Hakeem's "on the court" career looks to you like blind adoration. My eyes aren't shut to the events surrounding the attempted trade last year. I'm also fully aware of how he feuded with management years ago, and attempted (successfully) to renegotiate his contract several times to get more money. By the way, in a former life you stated most of your argument, and story, before. None of this off-the-court stuff impairs what he has done playing the game. And frankly, its all pretty tame.

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