CHARLOTTE: It wasn’t exactly the NBA head coaching debut former Knicks great Patrick Ewing had in mind.
Ewing, the Hall of Fame center who spent 15 seasons with the Knicks, stood in as head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday in place of ailing Steve Clifford.
Clifford was said by the team to be “resting comfortably” after having two stents placed in his heart.
He had checked himself into hospital on Thursday with chest pain.
“It is strange,” Ewing, Clifford’s associate coach, said of getting his first head coaching chance because of his Clifford’s illness.
“The only head coaching I’ve done has been during the summer league. But we’ll have to carry on until Steve comes back.”
As luck would have it, Ewing’s debut came against the team where he once starred—who beat the Bobcats 101-91.
Carmelo Anthony had 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Andrea Bargnani added 25 points and eight rebounds for New York, who are without starting center and defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler.
Chandler is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken right leg.
The Knicks, who snapped a three-game losing streak, led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter before the Bobcats closed the gap to 10.
Ewing said he expected this head coaching gig to be a short one. Clifford could be back on the sideline for Charlotte’s next game on Monday.
Clifford is the third head coach of a major US pro sports team to have a serious health issue in the past week.
The Denver Broncos’ John Fox was released from hospital on Friday after heart valve surgery, and Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime of his team’s NFL game against Indianapolis on Sunday with what doctors described as a minor stroke.
Kubiak is also out of hospital and expected to make a full recovery.