Legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., known simply as “Big John” throughout college basketball, has died at age 78.
Thompson was long considered an “O.G.” of sorts in the area of college basketball. He was tenacious, yet humble. He accepted nothing less than excellence, but still cared. He was one of those sports figures that really embodied the most well-respected coach. Thompson was one of the greatest coaches that college basketball has ever seen and ranks 62nd all-time with 596 wins.
Thompson led Georgetown to the 1984 national championship and built the program into a competitive force, taking the Hoyas to three Final Fours in the 1980s while also winning seven Big East titles. He also lead the 1988 United States national team to a bronze medal in the Olympics.
A spokesperson for the Thompson family released a statement that read, “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.”
“However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday. We will miss him but are grounded in the assurance that we carry his faith and determination in us. We will cherish forever his strength, courage, wisdom and boldness, as well as his unfailing love.”
Over the years, Thompson had the pleasure of coaching several standout players that went on to be some big names in the NBA. Among them are Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning, just to name a few. As news of his death quickly spread around the globe, of course there was a huge outpouring of love and respect from the basketball community for Thompson and his family.
One of the standouts we mentioned was Allen Iverson. Iverson took to his twitter account to share his love for Thompson literally changing his life.
Iverson wrote, “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach. 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 just for one more phone call from you only to hear you say, “Hey FM”, then we would talk about everything except basketball…”
I think Coach Doc Rivers said it best,
“Coach John Thompson JR.
He was a true builder of young boys to men. Set the tone for all of us. We will remember him as a coach. But anyone who came in contact realized, he was much more….
A mountain of a man.
My prayers to the Thompson family.
Thank you for sharing him with us all.
Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Morning,
Allen Iverson, Dikemba Mutombo,
Sleepy Floyd, Reggie Williams,…”
During Thompson’s time as coach, Georgetown Starter jackets “became symbols of racial pride,” according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has one of the