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NBA / Sep 19, 2011 / 1:00 pm

Who’s Better: Patrick Ewing Or David Robinson?

David Robinson, SI '96

The 1990s were highlighted by some of the best center play we have ever seen. Game dominators like Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal were consistently glued to the block in a game that was much more physical and reliant on the big man. Among some of the ’90s greatest heavyweights were Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. Very similar in style of play, these guys were warriors in every single sense of the word. But which center was the better of the two? By going off what my man Kristofer Habbas has done with the point guards, let’s have a verdict by looking at the statistics, best year, playoff success, and historical effect.

***

STATISTICS (per game)
Ewing: 21.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 2.4 blocks, 50.4% FG%, 74.0% FT%
Robinson: 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 3.0 blocks, 51.8% FG%, 73.6 FT%

Career Points
Ewing: 24,815 (16th all-time)
Robinson: 20,790 (33rd all-time)

Career Rebounds
Ewing: 11,607 (24th all-time)
Robinson: 10,497 (29th all-time)

Career Blocks
Ewing: 2,894 (sixth all-time)
Robinson: 2,954 (fifth all-time)

When reviewing statistics, there are two things to take in to consideration: quality and quantity. With three more seasons and 196 more games played than Robinson, it is no wonder that Ewing amassed more total points and rebounds. As much as this can be viewed as an unfair advantage to Pat, you also have to give him credit for sticking it out a few extra years.

As previously mentioned, these player’s games were eerily similar. You knew every time you had to play the Spurs or Knicks, you would be entering the paint at your own risk. By taking a look at the per game statistics you can see how evenly matched they were. Robinson barely one-upped Ewing in every category except for free throw percentage, where he was only .4% away. This is where the twilight of Ewing’s career came back to haunt him. It is nearly impossible to put up the same numbers at age 39 as you did while you were in your prime. If Ewing never suited up in those hideous green and red Sonics jerseys, or dabbled with the Orlando Magic for a year, then it is quite possible that their per-game averages would be much more similar.

Despite Ewing’s marks on the all-time list, Robinson put together the better quality of stats. Had the Admiral played 196 more games, according to his averages he would have 588 more blocks, 4,135 more points and 2,077 more rebounds. This would be enough to get him to second all-time in blocks, 17th all-time in rebounds, and once again one-upping Ewing to 15th all-time in points.

Advantage: David Robinson

BEST YEAR
Ewing (1989-90): 28.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 4.0 blocks, 55.1%
FG%, 77.5% FT%,
Robinson (1994-95): 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.7 steals, 3.2 blocks, 53.0% FG%, 77.4% FT%

With so many magnificent seasons to choose from, picking the best year from each of these two Hall of Fame careers was not a simple task.

Ewing’s best season witnessed him play a full 82-game slate and average a career high 4.0 blocks. That year, the Ewing-led Knicks finished 3rd in their division, earning them the 5th seed and a first round matchup against the majestic Boston Celtics. After falling down 2-0, the Knicks stormed back to win the five game series, riding 27-year-old Ewing’s playoff averages of 29.4 points and 10.5 rebounds. The eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons then ousted the Knicks in the next round, but despite this disappointment, Ewing had an MVP-caliber season.

David Robinson’s only MVP season came in 1994-95. Led by Robinson, the Spurs achieved a then-best franchise record at 62-20. Obtaining a No. 1 seed, the Spurs breezed through the Nuggets in the first round and took down the Lakers in six the next round before being dropped by Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.

Because the only MVP between these two studs went to Robinson, we have to give him the nod in the best year department.

Advantage: David Robinson

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  • kyballer312

    Wow, this is a tough one to call without letting emotional attachment sway you one way or the other…I think most Dimer’s will vote for Ewing based on his NY career being more highly televised than Robinson’s Spurs at the time…I don’t think oyu could go wrong with either of them in your 5 spot as they are both TRUE centers…but I think because of popularity and Robinson being viewed as the clean-cut “saint” a lot of ballers considered him soft…WAY FAR FROM THE TRUTH…Patrick will also have the following from his Hoya days as well to harvest votes versus David and his Navy career…again, tough, tough call…but give me Pat with his 15 foot range as well as his post moves and tenacity…great comparison!!!

  • Shot In Ya Face

    Meet Robinson last week. Really cool, down to earth guy. Asked him to join my basketball Rec league, but he said “no” LOL

  • http://slcdunk.com AllThatAmar

    again . . . the right answer is healthy, only slightly buzzing, Sabonis.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    I go with the Admiral. He lifted the small market Spurs and made them relevant again. He was a freak of nature, ran like a guard, had a small forwards game, in a big man’s body. He was also humble enough to sit shotgun and give Tim Duncan the keys to drive them to their first championship. I don’t know any other superstar who would have done that.
    These two have similar games but Robinson could defend better away from the basket, and he ran the floor better than any other big up to that point. I remember watching Robinson cross up a guy in the open floor while running full speed… then in the same game, he busted a fake crossover and the defender bit… HARD. He just had too many skills.

    “…but give me Pat with his 15 foot range”
    Mr. Robinson had range on his jumper too.

  • the truth

    Both great but im taking the admiral

  • ctkennedy

    D.Robinson cuz i trust him against the better centers in history of the game
    Plus Ewing NEVER dominated the Bulls center enuff for me EVER

  • JRav

    Admiral

    Remember he gave up the first few years of his career because he was busy serving his country.

  • K Dizzle

    @ Ian – I can’t wait to read ur opinion on this lol

  • Big Island

    Ewing was my favorite ever, but this one is a tough, tough call. I think it depends on the rest of your team, or what team you want to build. If you have a fast team, uptempo style, you take Robinson. No question. If your team is a slower, half court, bang it out team, you take Ewing.

    Lakers, Celtics, Dallas, Spurs now – Ewing
    OKC, Miami, Chicago, Spurs then – Robinson

  • Ian

    dizzle lol comon is this a joke

    david
    mvp
    4time first team allnba (from 91-96 which had hakeem also in his prime)
    4time first team alld
    scoring title
    two titles
    defensive player of the year
    rookie of the year
    carried a sad spurs team as a rookie to the second round
    quadruple double

    ewing
    ??????

    now the only thing people have agains the admiral how hakeem dominated him but ewing held his own vs the dream lets see

    robinson was better on both ends

    admiral vs hakeem playoffs
    24ppg 10rpg 3bpg

    ewing vs hakeem finals
    18ppg on 33%shooting

  • Ian

    had the admiral played for a big market or ewing a small one like the spurs this thing wouldnt even be discussed.

  • K Dizzle

    @ Ian Lol I knew you’d bring the heat.

    Point Blank – If D-Rob played in LA, Boston, or New York, this question would be blasphemy…

  • Promoman

    David Robinson by a mile. He was better on both ends and is the second best player in Spurs history. People clown him for being a coattail rider in terms of his titles but he got hurt carrying the franchise since Day 1. Unlike Hakeem and Patrick, he didn’t have an ugly exit when it was clear he wasn’t the alpha dog anymore.

  • Vinny

    @Ian- Ewing was also rookie of the year. all nba once(90) second team 6 times, all defensive second team 3 times. and if Duncan doesnt play with him- Robinson doesnt even get to the finals. Ewing led a weak knick team to 2 finals. You think Robinson could handle new york? he was a little thin skinned,lol. Ewing might not have been better but its not as one sided as you make it seem.

  • Ian

    vinny
    said it yourself ewing might have been better. thats it the end. two finals??? they made one cuz he got injured :)

    he still did more than ewing before duncan came in he never had a good/great team around him. ewing did. just look at the guards david played with when they won 62 johnson and del negro wtf man and hes supposed to beat hakeem with cassell and drexler????

    btw how have u been man??? didnt we agree i dont mess with gervin over frazier and you dont mess with ewing and the admiral hehe?

  • Ian

    all nba once he was considered the best center in league only one year.

    dizzle
    of course man ;)

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ Vinny – you might be right about Robinson not reaching the Finals if not for Duncan, but keep in mind the years Ewing made it: both times after Jordan retired, during a time when the East was weakening.

  • JBaller

    Loved Ewing and wouldn’t have traded hom for Robinson, but the admiral wins head to head.

  • ctkennedy

    Robinson always got knocked out the playoffs by a great in the box Barkley K.Malone n The Dream
    Ewing would be Rik Smits Bill Cartwright Will Perdue Horace Grant n a YOUNG Shaq….Ewing could NEVER step his game up in the playoffs EVER
    People can talk that Michael Jordan shit but Mike dont guard him n all your numbers bein lower than your regular season numbers is ALL on you PERIOD

  • pat

    Ewing and Robinson are both bitches of Hakeem. Hakeem completely owned them in any series. Anyone care to argue that?

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    Shit…. Ian is killing you Ewing dudes. Lol

  • http://www.remixcomic.com Nodizell

    Call me when Ewing has 2 rings. BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY ARGUMENT I NEED SEAN!!!!!

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    lmao@Ian.

    Im an Ewing supporter. I think he gets an unjust amount of hate. His teammates are highly overrated and DRobs teammates on his championship teams were way better. Ewing also had Jordan to battle, DRob had Hakeem but no one on Jordans level.

    That being said, I still like DRob over Ewing. DRob just had a motor that was unmatched at center. The guy was Javel McGee like athletically but very strong. His shot blocking was DPOY worthy. Offensively I would probably give Ewing a small edge because of his being better under the rim, but defensively, Drob got a decent advantage on him. His being able to cover so much more ground defensively.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    “DRob just had a motor that was unmatched at center.”
    ^ Yup

    “His shot blocking was DPOY worthy.”
    ^ Yup

    “defensively, Drob got a decent advantage on him. His being able to cover so much more ground defensively.”
    ^ Understated.

    If you guys don’t remember, early in his career D-Rob was being compared to Bill Russell defensively.

  • silky

    this matchup is closer than most these dudes in comments are sayin. i think robinson woulda melted in ny, give ewing credit for playing as well as he did his whole life under that microscope. i never really saw robinson as that leader type dude, more like the lil brother centers like zo and smits. his numbers were better than patricks cuz he saw more rock and played in a weaker, more free flowing conference. d-rob got to play with the greatest PF(arguably)to get his rings.

    if it wasn’t for mike comin back….. who knows? that knicks d is locking down all those west pg/pf combos in the finals (sonics, jazz, suns)

  • yoyo

    i would rather have david robinson, although patrick ewing is probably overall the more popular player

  • Pierre NyGaard

    The only thing remotely keeping them in the same discussion is Ewing’s visibility playing in New York and the infamy of Robinson getting abused by Olajuwon in ’95.

    On paper, Robinson destroys Ewing. Based on Win Shares, Ewing’s best seasons would have ranked as Robinson’s eighth best. Based on PER, Ewing’s best would have been Robinson’s ninth best. Robinson also has the advantage in accolades. Ewing was only First Team All-NBA once. Robinson was First Team All-NBA four times and recorded an MVP season as well.

    Take out the disproportionate media attention, and it’s not really even a fair comparison.