Ewing Theory 101
What are other examples of the Ewing Theory in action?
By Bill Simmons
Special to Page 2
Updated: July 21, 2009, 11:10 AM ET
You're probably tired of reading those "Where did these guys come from?" stories about the Seattle Mariners, who valiantly clawed their way to baseball's best record earlier this season, despite losing Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez over the past three years.
Despite Patrick Ewing's superstar numbers, the Knicks often fared better when their big man was injured or in foul trouble.
For most baseball fans, Seattle's spring surge was more inexplicable than Colby voting off Keith over Tina on "Survivor" last week. How can a franchise prosper after losing three of the biggest stars in baseball? How does this make sense?
I have a three-word explanation for you: "The Ewing Theory."
It's bigger than the "SI Jinx." It makes the "Curse of the Bambino" look like child's play. It's creepier than the "Curse of the 'Spinal Tap' Drummers" and the "Curse on the Careers of Everyone Who Leaves 'NYPD Blue' " combined. Quite simply, it's the most life-altering sports phenomenon of this lifetime.
Here's everything you need to know about the Ewing Theory, in the form of a Q & A
Some classics from the past three years, in no particular order:
1. Utah Utes, 1998: Keith Van Horn's ballyhooed college career ends without Utah ever making a Final Four. Nine months later, the Utes shock everyone by making the NCAA title game.
2. Tennessee Volunteers, 1998: Even more ballyhooed than Van Horn during his college career, Peyton Manning leaves UT without either winning a national title or beating Florida -- and the Vols win the national title nine months later.
3. Seattle Mariners, 2000: After allegedly "giving up on the season" by dealing their marquee player (Junior Griffey) eight months after dealing their marquee pitcher (the Big Unit), the Mariners cruise to an AL wild-card berth and shock the White Sox in the first round.
4. Boston Red Sox, 1999: After Mo Vaughn signs with the Angels for $80 million, nobody believes that the Sox have enough hitting to finish above .500. Wrong. They roll off 94 victories, capture the wild-card berth and win their first playoff series in 13 years (beating Cleveland in five games).
5. Miami Dolphins, 2000: Dan Marino retires and everyone prepares for a rebuilding year in Miami; the Fins end up advancing to the second round of the playoffs with Jay Fiedler. Jay Fiedler!
6. Philadelphia Flyers, 2000
7. Boston Red Sox & Seattle Mariners, 2001 (ongoing)
8. University of Kentucky, 1998
9. St. Louis Rams, 1999
10. Detroit Lions, 1999:
What are some famous examples from the last few decades?
In no particular order:
1. The LA Lakers, 1972: NBA legend Elgin Baylor retires before the season without ever playing for a championship Lakers team. Of course, the '71-72 Lakers end up running off a record 33-game winning streak en route to their first-ever NBA title in L.A. Seriously, you couldn't make this stuff up.
2. Virginia Cavaliers, 1984: Three-time Naismith Award winner Ralph Sampson graduates without ever leading Virginia to a national championship. Amazingly, the Cavs regroup the following season behind Othell Wilson and Rick Carlisle, going just as far as Sampson ever took them by sneaking into the Final Four. A Hall of Fame Ewing Theory example
3. N.Y. Yankees, 1996:
4. Cleveland Indians, 1997
5. World Wrestling Federation, 1997
Currently, who are some possible Ewing Theory candidates?
All right, I'll bite. Remember, we're targeting stars on teams that haven't won anything, as well as teams that would probably be written off without the stars we're about to mention:
# Drew Bledsoe: Every Patriots fan is nodding right now.
# Michael Vick: Textbook case. Everybody's already writing off Virginia Tech for next season, despite the fact that they never won anything with Vick. They might post a 12-0 next season.
# Chris Webber: Don't laugh. What happens if C-Webb leaves the Kings this summer, and they use the extra cap space to sign two second-tier free agents?
# Vince Carter: Watch the Raptors in two years, after Vince joins MJ in DC (and you know it's happening).
# Chris Bosh: Watch the Raptors in two years, after Bosh joins the King and Queen in Miami (and you know it's happening).
# Griffey: The baseball version of Ewing.
# Kobe Bryant: After they split him up from Shaq and he gets his own team.
# Pete Sampras: This one makes sense, if you think about it. Taking Sampras out of the men's tennis equation could make Wimbledon more interesting and allow younger, more charismatic players to rise to the forefront.
# Barry Bonds: It's unfair, but he fits the formula.
# Manning: You can feel the "Manning goes down and the Colts rally behind James & Harrison" moment coming in the next few years, can't you?
Can the Ewing Theory apply to romance?