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If crowds are hostile at Madison Square Garden toward Patrick Ewing this season, he still plans to give them their money's worth.

The All-Star center for the New York Knicks never spoke directly to the media during the offseason as he turned down a contract extension that would have paid him an average of $5.5 million a season, and then unsuccessfully filed for arbitration.On Thursday, the day before the Knicks open training camp here, Ewing broke his silence and tried to mend fences with the team and fans.

"I've been hearing other people say the crowd is going to boo," Ewing said. "When I'm on the court, I give the fans what they want to see. That's what I owe the fans. When they pay their money to see me play, I try to play to the best of my ability."

Ewing has a clause in his original 10-year contract with the Knicks saying he could become a free agent if he was not among the top four highest-paid players in the NBA on June 1. An arbitrator ruled that he was.

The Knicks, who took the $33 million contract extension offer off the table after the arbitration case, became concerned that Ewing is now perceived as a greedy player who would no longer give his best.

"I never asked to be traded or demanded to be traded, as it was stated," Ewing said. "I'm definitely disappointed I lost the arbitration case. I feel he made the wrong decision."

Ewing said he was discouraged that the Knicks have had six coaches, four general managers and two presidents in the six years since he's been with the team.

"New York is a great town. I started my career here, and I definitely would like to finish it here," Ewing said. "But I wanted the Knicks to do the right things to insure that we'd be an elite ball club. We were there for a year, but when (coach) Rick Pitino left, things went to pieces.

"My goal is to win. I was happy for Michael Jordan when he won a championship, but it was hard for me to sit and watch it. I'm jealous. I want that situation to be me," Ewing said.

Ewing said he declined to talk to the media during the summer because "in the heat of battle, you sometimes say things you regret. It wasn't the right time to speak."

"The Knicks and I had a difference of opinion. So we took it to court. I wanted that right to explore free agency."

But Ewing said he doesn't regret what happened, and rejected suggestions he might have received bad advice.

"If I had to do it again, I would do the same thing," he said. "Patrick Ewing is a man. Everybody has advisers. My adviser advised me. I made the decision. It was principle. I felt like I did what I had to do."