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 NEW YORK (AP) -At the end of a miserable season, the New York Knicks might finally have a reason to celebrate.
Patrick Ewing, the team's career scoring leader, will find out Monday if he is elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Growing up in Cambridge, Mass., Ewing said he made occasional trips to the Hall of Fame, located in Springfield. But he never thought about someday being a member of it, nor did he spend much time worrying about it as a player.
``You don't have time to think about it,'' Ewing, now an assistant coach with Orlando, said Sunday during a press conference before the Magic played the Knicks. ``You're concentrating on the present, trying to be the best player you can be and trying to do the best you can to help your team win a championship.''
Ewing got close, but never accomplished that. The Knicks lost the 1994 NBA finals to Houston in seven games, and Ewing was hurt when New York lost to San Antonio five years later.
He joined the Knicks as the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft and spent 17 years in the NBA, most with the Knicks. Ewing also is the team's career leader in rebounds and blocked shots and was voted one of the league's 50-greatest players.
A video of Ewing's highlights was shown on the overhead scoreboard during a timeout in the second quarter, followed by a standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd. Ewing's No. 33 hangs from the arena's rafters.
``The thing that always comes to mind when you think of him is his warrior spirit,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. ``He always went out on the floor and competed extremely hard. He came into the league as a shot blocker-rebounder, and he worked himself into being a dominant force.''
Ewing, former Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon and Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, all in their first years of eligibility, are the leading candidates. Riley, who coached Ewing in New York, has said how much it would mean to him if they went in together, something Ewing said they discussed during a Georgetown game in the NCAA tournament.
``He came over and we sat and we talked about it, and you know it'd be great,'' Ewing said during his press conference, attended by Knicks Hall of Famers Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, plus former teammates Herb Williams and John Starks. ``Pat was one of the coaches that brought the great franchise of the Knicks back to the glory days and one of my best coaches, and it would be an honor to go in with him.''
The 2008 class will be announced in San Antonio at the Final Four. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, who worked under Riley and now employs Ewing, said there's no doubt those two and Olajuwon should be inducted.
``You look at the list and you say Patrick and Hakeem and Pat Riley have got to be the three that absolutely go in based on what they've accomplished in this game,'' Van Gundy said. ``And I think certainly with Patrick, I can't imagine you having a vote and not voting for him.''
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