NCAA

John Thompson, Longtime Georgetown Basketball Coach, Dead at 78

John Thompson, the legendary Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball coach and a major figure in the history of college basketball, died at age 78.

A cause of death was not immediately announced for Thompson, who coached Georgetown for nearly 30 years.

Thompson recruited and developed No. 1 overall picks Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing, both of whom later joined him in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The sports world is mourning Thompson’s passing. Here’s more on his death.

John Thompson started coaching early

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Born in September 1941 — just over three months before Pearl Harbor — John Thompson played college basketball at Providence.

The Boston Celtics, entering the final few years of Bill Russell’s peak, drafted Thompson in 1964. A center who stood 6 feet 10 inches, Thompson averaged 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 74 career games.

Thompson retired after the 1966 season to pursue a career in coaching. He spent 1966-72 at St. Anthony High School in Washington D.C.

St. Anthony went 122-28 in Thompson’s time there. The Georgetown Hoyas, which had just went 3-23 under Jack Magee, hired the 31-year-old Thompson as the next head coach.

John Thompson is a Georgetown legend

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The rebuild went quickly in Georgetown. The Hoyas went 12-14 in John Thompson’s first season, then improved to 13-13 in 1973-74.

Things only got better from there. Georgetown went 18-10 in 1974-75 and didn’t post a losing season until 1998-99, Thompson’s final season at the helm.

Thompson went 596-239 in 27 seasons with the Hoyas. Georgetown made 20 consecutive postseason appearances from 1979-92, a streak punctuated by a national championship in 1984. Before Georgetown defeated Houston that year, a Black head coach had never won a national title in basketball.

Thompson mentored the likes of Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Patrick Ewing. All became top-5 picks in the NBA draft — and, later, entered the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Ewing and Iverson are also enshrined in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thompson resigned as Georgetown’s coach midway through the 1998-99 season for personal reasons. His son, John III, coached Georgetown from 2004-17.

John Thompson passed away at age 78

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Two days after the death of former UConn and Portland Trail Blazers star Cliff Robinson, the basketball world is mourning another loss.

A cause of death was not immediately announced for Thompson, who would have turned 79 on September 2.

NBA reporter Chris Haynes tweeted Thompson’s death marked another tragic blow to the “Black community.” Star actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson and Marvel’s Black Panther in movies, recently passed away from cancer.

Cliff Robinson died a day after Boseman.

“Growing up, we thought Georgetown was an HBCU the way legendary coach John Thompson represented that university and had us all wearing Hoya starter jackets,” Haynes wrote.

Longtime ESPN analyst Darren Rovell, now at The Action Network, remembered Thompson in a tweet.

Time made me realize John Thompson’s greatness as a communicator, an educator and as a friend to the players he coached. There’s a reason why his players talk more about what he taught them about life than on the court and why their loss today hurts like a parent gone.

Brandon Robinson of Heavy tweeted, “97 percent of his players stayed all four years and left with a college degree.”

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