Patrick Ewing’s Office: The Memories Jordan Won’t Let Die

jordanewing

 

Patrick Ewing is tired. His knees ache. His adrenaline has been stripped from him and he’s left to wait on the second floor hallway bathroom stall to become available while Bismack Biyombo drops stench bombs of a harmful kind.

It’s his first week in the Charlotte offices as an assistant coach for the Bobcats and he’s about on his last leg. Michael Jordan, his new boss, has done nothing but bring up old memories. When he first arrived, littered throughout his office walls were pictures of Jordan celebrating championships. Jordan taking a puff of a victory cigar. Jordan holding onto the trophy like it’s his wife who he just saw for the first time in fifty years. Jordan getting doused with champagne. Jordan hugging Phil Jackson. They were everywhere.

On his desk, though, rested pictures more personal in their nature. Pictures of Jordan’s victories over Ewing’s Knicks. Jordan scoring over Starks. Pippen dunking on Ewing. Then, in the largest frame on the desk, the picture that Ewing knew he never wanted to see. Not ever. Not since it happened. People had come to call it The Escape. To its right, another haunting shot.

His mind left him and went to those days and he got chills and shakes and turned the photos face down. He threw them in the trash at the end of the day, went home, and tried to forget the 90’s existed. Then he got to work the next day and, once more, they were up.

Over and over this happened. Every. Single. Day. He got into work. Saw the pictures. Had a flashback of horrors for five minutes. Turned the frames face down. Then threw them into the trash at the end of the day. He would go home and talk to his wife and say words like “quit” and “can’t” and “won’t” and “leave” and every night she would rub his back and tell him to calm down.

“That’s just Michael,” she’d say, “He’s trying to get a rise out of you. Don’t let him.”

But every day with the pictures. Every single one. He was fine with the ones on the walls. Those hadn’t directly affected him. It was the ones on the desks that struck a chord that rested deep within him in places that even therapists don’t venture to go.

Today, though, finally, it was Friday. He would be done with his first week at the end of today and he could go home for the weekend and wind down and love on his wife and forget about the Bulls and the nineties and Hakeem and Starks and Mason Jr. and all the rest. He could sit and he could just…be.

For now he waits on that second floor hallway bathroom stall to become available. He checks his phone. His eyes dart from one end of the hall to the other hoping the one that stole those rings from him, the one that still wears acid wash jeans, won’t come around the corner to ruin the day he’s trying to get through.

Out walks Bismack Biyombo and the stall is available. Biyombo looks at his new assistant coach with sad eyes. Ewing nods. Biyombo shakes his head.

Ewing walks in and situates himself on the toilet. He’s looking down at his phone and his eyes get tired so he looks up. This is when he goes into shock.

There, on the stall door, is a television. It is playing a single clip. Over and over again. One play. The Escape.

 

 

Over and over.

This is an ego problem.

The spin out of the double team.

This is an ego problem.

The tightrope move on the baseline.

This is an ego problem.

The rising up above the whole, wide world.

This is an ego problem.

The mash.

This is an ego problem.

Ewing pulled up his pants in a rush and sprinted out of the bathroom. He got into the hallway and tried to compose himself. He turned to walk toward his office. Then, a voice. The one he knows like he knows his own.

“Pat.”

He turned to face it. It was Jordan. Cigar puffing in one hand. Mimosa, for some reason, in the other.

“I love mimosas,” said Jordan, “Always feels like a celebration when you’re drinking one.”

Ewing stared at him.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked, “When you offered me the job you promised there would be no more bringing up the past.”

“Champions don’t need to keep promises,” said Jordan.

Jordan turned to walk away. Ewing was about to leave, then, from over his shoulder, Jordan puffed smoke into the air and spoke.

“Enjoy the new look of your office,” he said.

Ewing wheeled around and sprinted to his office. He opened the door and his heart sank. Every wall was now a screen. Every screen, over and over again, was playing The Escape. Ewing dropped to his two bad knees, his knees that may as well have been from the Mesozoic era, and he wept.

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