Van Gundy criticized the Knicks on Monday night for failing to give Ewing, the franchise's career scoring leader, a coaching job in the organization.
“I'm not trying to needle anybody or tell them their business,” Van Gundy said after Orlando beat the Knicks 106-102. “What's amazing is they honor the guy, I don't know, every year. They honor him, but while they've got a lot of ex-players in their organization, they've never made any move to try to hire him. That to me is amazing.”
Ewing was honored at halftime, when the Knicks presented seven of their former players with “legends awards.” Introduced last, he received a loud ovation from the fans, who seem to appreciate him even more than they did when he was playing in New York from 1985-2000.
Van Gundy isn't sure the organization does.
“I mean, I don't know. It's sort of back and forth,” Van Gundy said. “They seem to like you. The fans certainly love him. The organization, to me, sort of pretends to appreciate him and like him.”
Ewing was a favorite of Van Gundy's brother, Jeff, who coached the Knicks from March 1996 until resigning in December 2001.
Now in his second season on Van Gundy's staff, Ewing previously served as an assistant coach in Washington and Houston. He is credited for his work with centers Yao Ming and the Magic's Dwight Howard, who came out early to watch the halftime ceremony _ none of the Knicks players did.
Yet he was apparently never a serious candidate for the Knicks' coaching job last year when Isiah Thomas was fired. Meanwhile, New York did interview former Knicks guard Mark Jackson, even though he has no coaching experience.
“This is a guy that not only was the face of their franchise, but when your best player works as hard as he does and competes as hard as he does, he gives your team a chance to be great. They say great things about him, but when it's time to put up or shut up, they don't do anything,” said Van Gundy, who recently feuded with Shaquille O'Neal over his comments about O'Neal's flopping.
“So you know, it's been amazing and it's been our fortune in Orlando, that it's pretty amazing that with the ex-players that they hire here to me, there hasn't been a move. There are other ex-players that got interviews for their head coaching job, but then a guy who's been in the league with three different teams as an assistant can't get an interview.”
Ewing has said he wants to be a top job in the NBA and there was some thought he would end back in New York last year, either as the head coach or perhaps as an assistant on Mike D'Antoni's staff.
“I'm just like any person who is coaching in this league,” Ewing said before the game. “I'm just looking for an opportunity, that's all.”