SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tom Thibodeau believes Knicks legend Patrick Ewing will “bounce back” from his firing Thursday at Georgetown.
Thibodeau was an assistant coach on the Knicks during Ewing’s final seasons with the franchise as a player, and they worked closely together as assistants under Jeff Van Gundy in Houston from 2004-07.
“It’s unfortunate, but Patrick is, in my eyes, he’s an all-time great, if not the greatest Knick of all time. And obviously working together with him, not only is he a great coach, he’s an even better person. So it’s disappointing,” Thibodeau said before the Knicks’ 122-117 loss to the Kings. “I thought he had some great moments there. I know it was very meaningful to him.
“But Patrick will be fine. He’s, like I said, I’ve worked with him, so I know he’s a great coach. But he’s a great person. He’s a dear friend. And so he’ll bounce back and good things will be coming in the future for him.”
The 60-year-old Ewing was fired Thursday after the Hoyas posted a combined record of 13-50 over the past two seasons, including 7-25 this year.
In six years at his alma mater, the 11-time NBA All-Star center finished with a record of 75-109.
“The thing about Patrick is as a coach the only thing you can control is what you put into it. I know how much he put into it,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes there’s things that occur that you have no control over. No matter what happens it doesn’t change his love for that school and what that means to him.
“The initial disappointment of not being there anymore, that’s normal human nature. But he’ll bounce back. I know how strongly he feels about the school, how much appreciation he has for the time that he was there. And he’ll still be involved with Georgetown. It’s a great school. He’ll move forward. He’ll be fine.”
Thibodeau added that “the state of college basketball is in flux right now,” citing the transfer portal and NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) compensation as “changing the dynamics of college basketball tremendously.”
“I think you have to look at, OK, obviously when you have success, you don’t do that by yourself either,” Thibodeau added. “You share in that and then when something doesn’t work, it’s not any one particular person, you have to share in that and say there’s a lot of factors that go into this.”