The basketball world paused on Monday morning when news emerged that former Georgetown head coach John Thompson has passed away at age 78. Thompson led Georgetown to the 1984 national championship as Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas' current head coach, anchored the team. Thompson coaching legacy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 as his legacy includes the development of four players in the Basketball Hall of Fame--Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson.
Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams matched up against Thompson and the Hoyas back on November 26, 1993 when the Terps came out on top with a one-point victory. It was the lone matchup between the two coaches, but Williams remembers Thompson for his contributions both on and off the court.
"John Thompson was a fighter for his university, his players and for people," Williams said in a statement. "He always wanted to show that his players could compete at the highest level and also live successful lives after college. His impact was incredible in allowing black coaches to get jobs they weren't able to get before and opening doors for others. It was the same for officials--there weren't many black officials who officiated big-time games and he made a point in meetings that there was a need for that. Here in Washington, D.C. John was a legend. His background with the local boys clubs was extremely special. They worshipped him. John did so many things that made people's lives better. He had a great platform and he used it while he was at Georgetown. He will truly be missed."
"I have a ton of respect for the impact John Thompson had on Georgetown basketball and the entire Washington, D.C. community," head coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. "John was instrumental in paving the way for other black coaches to receive coaching opportunities they may not have had before, and was an inspiration for many. On a personal level, I will always be thankful for his help and advice when I first moved to the area. My thoughts and prayers are with the Thompson family and the Georgetown community."
Walt Williams grew up in the area and attended Crossland High School before his four-year career in College Park, but Williams still felt the impact that Thompson left in his path. “I’m going to miss these guys!!!! Coach John Thompson and Charles “Charlie Mo” Harrison! Had it not been for the impact Len Bias has on me…who knows? I might’ve been a Hoya #RIP fellas, Williams wrote on Twitter.
Former Georgetown guard Allen Iverson credited Thompson for "saving my life" as he took to social media to reflect on his former head coach. "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 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