Georgetown legend John Thompson, also known as Big John, passed away last weekend at the age of 78.
Georgetown legend John Thompson, also known as Big John, passed away last weekend. Thompson dies at the age of 78 after 27 seasons in the face of Georgetown Hoyas basketball.
- Thompson was the Inductee and three-times Big East Coach of the Year at Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Thompson attended Providence College and played on the NIT Championship team in 1963.
- Two years he played in the NBA for the Boston Celtics and won two titles during this period.
- Later that year, he was arrested and finally sentenced to life in prison for his role in drug trafficking.
Thompson compiled a training record of 596-239, but most importantly 97% of his players stayed for four years and graduated from college.
He was the first black head coach to win the NCAA National Championship when his Hoyas defeated the University of Houston Cookers in the 1984 NCAA title match.
Georgetown legend John Thompson – career
Thompson was a three-time Big East Coach of the Year and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
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During his tenure in Georgetown, he coached several NBA first-round selections, including Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Martin, Sleepy Floyd and Alan Iverson. Thompson retired from training in 1999.
One of his sons, John Thompson III, eventually accepted the leadership of the Hoyas project. Now, his former player, Patrick Ewing, is in charge.
He went to Providence College, where he was part of the NIT Championship team in 1963. In 1964, he was part of the first tournament team at the Providence NCAA. That year he was named All-American.
In the third round of the 1964 draft, Thompson was drawn up. He played in the NBA for the Boston Celtics for two years and won two titles during this time. He then started at St. Anthony’s High School in Washington, D.C. From 1966 to 1972, his team achieved a record 122–28.
He was later appointed head coach of Georgetown’s men’s basketball team, where he spent the rest of his Hall of Fame career.
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One of the most famous figures in his game, Thompson took on the Lower Georgetown project. He designed it to be a perennial rival, ending with a national championship team that hosted Ewing in 1984. They lost to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and Villanova in 1985.
At 6-ft-10, leaning on the shoulder of the never-before-seen white piece, Thompson truly and symbolically soared over the Hoyas for decades. Won seven Coach of the Year awards. He became a team patriot after retiring from training in 1999.
Notable stories about Thompson
On the 1989 episode of ABC’s “Nightline”, Thompson said he encountered bad drug kingpin’s Raffle Edmund III after learning he had befriended some Georgetown players, including local cocaine ring leader Alonzo Mourning and John Turner.
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Edmund, a well-known figure in the city, attended many Georgetown games and often visited a popular nightclub where he met some players. Later that year, he was arrested and finally sentenced to life in prison for his role in drug trafficking activities. Turner was expelled from the team, and he too was later arrested on drug charges, which were eventually dropped.
On another occasion, Thompson stood with Iverson, who was jailed for four months for allegedly contributing to a bowling alley during a high school fight. Thompson was criticized for his loyalty to Iverson, which finally overturned the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The talented guard won the Big East Rookie of the Year races while leading the show to an Elite Eight in his second and final season at school. In an Instagram post on Monday, Iverson thanked Thompson for “saving my life” and said he hoped his college coach would always be proud of him.
Thompson is not just a basketball coach. He stood for education, he stood for equal rights, and he was a father to many young athletes. Like all great coaches, Thompson did not produce the best players, he always produced the best young people who would carry on his legacy.