It wasn't a very good basketball game for any level, so 10,000 people at George Mason's new Patriot Center were left to talk about:
Jack Nicholson sitting in one of the best seats, wearing virtually all black (including the shades) and white Reebok's with purple and pink laces; Manute Bol's height (7 feet 7); New York Coach Hubie Brown's behavior (tempestuous); the completely awful traffic conditions to get here; and, of course, Patrick Ewing, without whose presence most of these people would have remained home and watched another prime-time Ewing, J.R.
Patrick Ewing's 10 points and 13 rebounds couldn't keep the Knicks from losing, 85-78, to the the Bullets in the opening NBA exhibition for both teams.
"I did all right," he said after battling with veteran Bullets center Jeff Ruland and rookie Bol.
"I would like to have gotten a few more rebounds and kept Ruland off the boards a little better. But that's over now. May as well look to the next one."
When Ewing, Georgetown's three-time all-America, was introduced, he received a long, loud ovation from the first audience to sit in Patriot Center.
His former coach, John Thompson, sat about 20 rows up and nearby were several of Ewing's former teammates, Ronnie Highsmith, Ralph Dalton and Michael Jackson.
Early in the game when Ewing went to the foul line, a few fans began singing, "Let's go, Hoyas," a song of the past.
All the supporters in the crowd couldn't help him get shots over Bol.
When asked about Bol afterward, Ewing said, "I know who he is. The tall one. He's very tall. The tallest player I've ever played against. Twice I got the ball down in the low post and he made me double pump. Now, I know the way people feel when they play against us."
Someone asked Ewing if Ruland is the toughest opponent he had ever faced. "I guess so, since he's the only guy I've played against," Ewing said. "He's a lot stronger than I am. You could tell that, obviously."
Another thing that was quite obvious to those who have watched Ewing over the years was that he appears much bigger -- especially in the upper body -- than in April when he ended his career with Georgetown.
"I have put on a little more weight," Ewing said. "A lot of people think I just started lifting weights. But I've been doing that since my first year at Georgetown. This is just an accumulation of that."
This was only the first of maybe 50 or so sellout crowds that Ewing will play before the next eight months.
Brown pointed out that having Ewing will mean that Madison Square Garden will have "a minimum of 16,000 to 18,000 almost every game, which hasn't happened since 1974."
"He has presence," Brown said. "He's a hard worker and a great attitude. The players and coaching staff have to like him because he's what you want in a professional basketball player."