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The Ewing Theory
& why I spend too many nights watching NBA games as
a teenager
NBA in the 90s
Michael Jordan
The G.O.A.T.
Barcelona
Dream Team
The Greatest Team Ever
But also a lot of challengers
DETROIT PISTONS / THE BAD BOYS
CHARLES BARKLEY / PHOENIX SUNS
KARL MALONE & JOHN STOCKTON / UTAH JAZZ
Reggie MILLER / INDIANA PACERS
NEW YORK KNICKS / THE BLUE COLLARS
Patrick Ewing
NYC Superstar in 80s / 90s
Face of the Knicks for 19
years
MJ23 Arch enemy for 18 years
NCAA (Georgetown vs UNC)
NBA (Chicago vs NY)
Never Won any
major title
1999
Michael Jordan retires
Knicks are struggling (8th
seed in the east)
Upset in 1st round (beat
Miami 1st seed at the last
second)
... Ewing gets injures
(Achilles)
KNICKS ARE GOING IN NBA FINALS
● They had to play
faster
● They had to get the
ball moving
● They had to share
more responsibilities
● They had to get
resilient
...
And as we are in the land of sport-
entertainment,
Media tried to characterize this
behaviour.
ESPN came with a new theory
The Ewing Theory
A star athlete receives an inordinate
amount of media attention and fan
interest.
And yet his teams never win anything
substantial with him (other than maybe
some early-round playoff series).
That same athlete leaves his team
(either by injury, trade, graduation,
free agency or retirement).
And both the media and fans immediately
write off the team for the following
season.
POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS
Possible Explanations
- Short term
- Psychological effect
- Playing harder, more motivation, sharing
responsibilities
- Dominant big man paradox
- The Braess Effect: “offense” network becomes re-
routed: team closer to its true global optimum
- Pattern happened a lot in US sportds
How did it change the
game?
In the last 18 years
- “Small-ball”, much more paced tempo
- More interchangeable positions
- Less dominant big man that before
- More multi-superstar teams
- More passing around
- (Much) Less rough than before
More photos for the fun
FURTHER READING
● The original ESPN Article
● Ewing Theory Revisited (2013)
● Braess Paradox and the Ewing Theory
● The Ewing Theory needs a new name

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Nba Ewing Theory