By Michael Pavitt |
Georgetown University has paid tribute to its legendary head coach John Thompson Jr, who has died at the age of 78.
Thompson served as the head coach of the Georgetown University Hoya basketball team from 1972 to 1999.
He led the university to victory at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships in 1984.
The team also reached two NCAA finals under Thompson’s leadership, losing to the Michael Jordan led North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985.
Georgetown University said that while Thompson was often lauded as the first black head coach to win the NCAA Championships, he disapproved of the notion as he felt it implied he was the first black coach with the intelligence to win the title.
Thompson instead clarified that he was instead the first black head coach with the opportunity to achieve the feat.
He also walked off the court in protest at a league rule in 1989, which he found to be attacking black youth and their opportunity at an education.
Thompson coached eight players who were first round NBA Draft selections.
This included current Georgetown University Hoya head coach Patrick Ewing, as well as Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson.
“Georgetown University, the sport of basketball and the world has lost someone who I consider to be a father figure, confidant and role model,” said Ewing.
“He has done so much to impact my life and the people he has coached and mentored along the way.
“However, his reach went well beyond just those who he knew personally, he changed the world and helped shape the way we see it.
“He was a great coach but an even better person and his legacy is everlasting.
“My condolences and prayers go out to his family.”
Thompson led the United States’ men’s team at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, where they secured a bronze medal after being beaten in the semi-finals by the Soviet Union.
He served as the assistant coach of the American team which earned gold at Montreal 1976, as well as featuring as a member of the selection committee for the squad which triumphed in front of a home crowd at Los Angeles 1984.
Prior to coaching, Thompson had played for two seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Boston Celtics, with the team winning the title in both years.
Georgetown University had already awarded Thompson its two highest honours, the President’s Award and the Patrick Healy Award.
“Coach John R. Thompson Jr. had a profound impact on our university,” said John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University President.
Forty-eight years ago, he joined the Georgetown community and with his distinctive style, commitment to excellence, and clear sense of purpose, transformed Georgetown basketball.
“We are a better university because of John’s leadership – he challenged us to live up to our values and enabled all of us to see new possibilities, for ourselves, and for the impact we could have on the world.
“John will be remembered for many things – his historic achievements, the lives he shaped, his advocacy for social and racial justice – but perhaps most of all, for the authenticity through which he lived his life.”
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.