Everything old is new again, at least when it comes to footwear it seems. Jordan Brand's retros continue to fly off shelves, Reebok re-entered the basketball market with their re-releases of past signature shoes, so there's no better time for former Knick great Patrick Ewing to re-launch his brand and popular sneakers.
Ewing Athletics was originally launched in 1989 when the Jamaican-born center was entering his prime with the Knicks. The brand released the initial Rebound before following it up with the 33 Hi (the brand's most popular model), Eclipse, Concept, Focus, Domain and the Empire.
Production ceased in 1996, but a funny thing happened at the turn of the century, folks began searching the Internet for vintage Ewing Athletics shoes leading to an eventual re-launch in 2012.
Nick Metallinos caught up with Patrick Ewing at Madison Square Garden recently to find out why it took so long to re-launch the brand, and whether the company has plans to take over the basketball sneaker market from Ewing's boss Michael Jordan.
Nick Metallinos: How did you decide to come back with the Ewing Athletics again in 2012? What was the genesis of the re-launch?
Patrick Ewing: Well, after years of a lot of people calling, and talking to a lot of different people, the guys that we decided to go to were the best guys to get it [re-launch] done. They’ve been in the business for a lot of years, and they were the most determined guys and I learned to trust them. That’s the reason. Some of the people that we were with in the past did some things that I did not like, and we felt like these guys would do right by me.
NM: How’s the re-launch gone so far? I’ve noticed there seems to be a different color scheme out each week. Not to mention the Ewing Guard ----
PE: They’re coming out. They’re not out yet. They’re coming out soon. You know we’re just trying to spice things up trying to keep the customers happy. It’s all stuff that’s been out in the past, we’re just re-launching them. You know, [just] add a little something different to them to make them relevant to this time, but they’re doing well.
NM: What’s the appeal of the shoes? A lot of these kids that are wearing them now probably didn’t even see you play when you were with the Knicks.
PE: Some did! They’ve see me on video games and Space Jam ---
NM: NBA Jam –
PE: NBA Jams! They seen when Herb Williams said he gave me 30-points, or something like that. [nudges Knicks assistant Herb Williams, who’s sitting next to him]. Na, I mean, their mother or father might have had a pair [back in the day], but it’s not just kids that are buying it. It’s a lot of older folks who might have worn it as a kid. They like them so they wanna’ get some new pairs.
NM: What’s in store for Ewing Athletics? What can we expect?
PE: Just keep on growing. Day-by-day. Month-by-month. Year-by-year. Then one day, hopefully, we’ll be right back where we used to be.
NM: I know you and Michael Jordan are good friends. Any plans for Ewing Athletics to jump over the Jumpman?
PE: Oh, no! [Laughs] There’s no rivalry [there]…they’re the big boys on the block. We’re just the little guys. We’re just taking pot-shots [laughs].