Another legend has been called home; as the family of John Thompson Jr, the coach who catapulted Georgetown basketball to national prominence, announced his death on Monday. He was 78.
Growing up as a basketball star, despite undiagnosed vision issues and racial segregation, Thompson maintained an education, earning a degree in economics from Providence College in Rhode Island.
After two years in the NBA, he then furthered his education, earning a master’s degree in guidance and counseling at the University of the District of Columbia.
However, Thompson rose to fame from the bench at Georgetown University, leading the basketball team to the NBAA championship in 1984. Although he was the first black coach to achieve the feat, he felt the label slighted generations of black coaches who, too, could have reached the feat, had they had the same opportunities to do so.
“Don’t let eight pounds of air be the sum total of your existence,” Thompson often said, which is even displayed in the lobby of Georgetown’s McDonough Arena.
In 1999, Thompson stepped down from his coaching position after earning a 596-239 record during his 27-year tenure. He also was prominent in launching the Big East Conference in ’79 and helped diversify the sport at the prestigious school.
If that wasn’t enough, Thompson also earned a slew of Hall of Fame honors and coached some of the league’s best, including Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson, who mourned the coach in a social media post.
“Thanks for saving my life coach,” Iverson said. “I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile. I would give anything for just one more call from you only to hear you say, ‘Hey MF,’ then we would talk about everything except basketball. May you always rest in paradise, where there is no pain or suffering. I will always see your face in my mind, hoping that I made you proud. “Your Prodigal Son” #Hoya4life.”