Legendary NCAA basketball coach John Thompson Jr. has apssed away at the age of 78.
The legend of Thompson includes leading the Georgetown Hoyas to the 1984 national title, becoming the first Black head coach to do so in Division 1 history, three Final Fours in the 1980s, and coaching the 1988 USA national team to a Bronze Medal in the Olympics. ESPN also notes Thompson as the coach who recruited and developed for NBA legends: Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo.
Ewing now coaches the Hoyas and stated of Thompson, “This is a person that, when I came to college — I was 18 — helped me to grow.”
During Iverson’s Hall of Fame speech, Iverson credited Thompson for saving his life.
“I want to thank coach Thompson … for saving my life. For giving me the opportunity. I was recruited by every school in the country for football and basketball. And an incident happened in high school and all that was taken away. No other teams, no other schools were recruiting me anymore. My mom went to Georgetown and begged him to give me a chance. And he did.”– Allen Iverson
Thompson was born in 1941 and showed his championship pedigree by leading Archbishop Carroll High School, followed by taking Providence to the NIT championship in 1963 and the captain for the first NCAA Tournament Providence team in 1964. Those winning ways would continue to the NBA where he supported Bill Russell as a back up winning championships with the Boston Celtics in 1965 and 1966.
Thompson’s was survived by his sons, John Thompson III and Ronny Thompson, and daughter Tiffany Thompson.