Legendary former Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson passed away at the age of 78 and on Monday he was remembered by former players and his former program as a mentor, a teacher, a trailblazer and so much more.
Thompson coached Georgetown for 27 years, starting in the 1972-73 season, and he finished his career with 596 wins, a .714 winning percentage, the 1984 national championship and two other Final Four appearances. He was the first Black coach to win the NCAA DI men’s basketball championship. The list of notable players he coached includes Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning.
Here's some of the reaction to Thompson's passing from the basketball world, including some of his former players:
Georgetown men's basketball program
A statement released on behalf of the Thompson Family pic.twitter.com/UKfVd4LPRP— Georgetown Hoops (@GeorgetownHoops) August 31, 2020
Iverson played at Georgetown under Thompson for two seasons, immediately stepping in and becoming the Hoyas' leading scorer at more than 20 points per game as a freshman, even as he played alongside three upperclassmen who later played in the NBA. Iverson, who was listed at just 6 feet, was fourth on the team in rebounds per game and he was a pesky defender, who averaged more than three steals per game for his career.
As a sophomore, Iverson averaged 25 points per game, while leading Georgetown to 29 wins and a first-place finish in the Big East 7 division of the conference.
....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 pic.twitter.com/PberF54UqN— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) August 31, 2020
Known for his defensive prowess and intimidating presence at the rim, the 7-2 Mutombo was an immediate-impact defender who developed as a scorer under Thompson.
Very sad news to wake up to on this cloudy morning. Our legendary Georgetown coach, John Thompson has passed away. He was my mentor, great teacher, hero and a father figure to so many us who got the chance to play for him. Under coach Thompson, I learned a lot about the game of basketball but most importantly, I learned how to be a man in society. We will really miss him. RIP coach. 💔💔💔
A highly touted prospect out of Maryland, Chris Wright played for Thompson's son, John Thompson III. He played for four seasons at Georgetown, which were highlighted by his junior season in which he averaged a career-best 15.2 points per game.
I told Big Coach when we were leaving the gym “watch out for that water” he said “don’t worry about it, Son I walk on water” smh lol— Chris Wright (@Mrwright_11) August 31, 2020
Providence men's basketball program
The Friar family mourns the loss of John Thompson ‘64. He was a legendary player and an even greater person. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Thompson family.— PC Men's Basketball (@PCFriarsmbb) August 31, 2020
Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/BsORrzwX5F
St. John's men's basketball program
The basketball world has lost a giant. Big John stood for all that was right. He stood for his players, often in the face of immense pressure. He also did it while winning, a lot. The BIG EAST is the BIG EAST because of men like John Thompson.— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) August 31, 2020
📸: George Kalinsky/MSG pic.twitter.com/johDKc5lNC
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim
(1/3) We lost a great basketball coach and a great person with the passing of my friend John Thompson. He was a leader in the game and in life. John empowered all coaches but especially Black coaches and Black players. pic.twitter.com/x2XsYVml8A— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) August 31, 2020
(2/3) Syracuse and Georgetown was the toughest rivalry for about 10-15 years during the early BIG EAST days. There was nothing quite like it. Many of my fondest coaching memories are from Georgetown games, coaching against John – in the Dome, at Georgetown and at MSG.— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) August 31, 2020
(3/3) Juli and I want to express our condolences to John’s family and the Georgetown basketball community. John was one of a kind.— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) August 31, 2020
Kennesaw State men's basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim
In our profession there is a BAR that has been set. A BAR that has less to do with winning and more to do with raising young men to men and standing for what’s right... Big John Thompson is that BAR! #CoachJohnThompson #BigJohn #RIP pic.twitter.com/7cItikq7xK— Amir Abdur-Rahim (@sunsetAMIR) August 31, 2020
Tulsa athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg
AAU Chairman of Boys Basketball Boo Williams
Today we lost a GIANT in the basketball world. The work Coach but in the game for young black men to be able to show their abilities at a University like Georgetown is unparalleled. Coach pushed & knocked down barriers for us & your work, life & legacy will live FOREVER❗️ pic.twitter.com/pMXrt1oJ8a— Boo Williams (@BooWilliamsAAU) August 31, 2020