Vitale: Thompson was Muhammad Ali of basketball coaching

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Longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale fought back tears and got choked up when discussing former Georgetown coach John Thompson on ESPN, as relayed by OutKick's Ryan Glasspiegel.

Thompson died Monday at the age of 78.

“He had principles — he fought for his principles in the right manner,” Vitale said during a spot on Get Up.

Thompson's list of legends while coaching at Georgetown included Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo

His Ewing-led teams of the 1980s -- which also featured the likes of Reggie Williams, David Wingate and Michael Graham -- were known for their intense, physical style. Facing Georgetown in those days created what became known as "Hoya Paranoia."

Vitale called Thompson the Muhammad Ali of coaching as the tributes came pouring in. (See full video below.)

"Thompson was that man, 6-foot-10 and full of fierce conviction. He was a towering, glowering force of change," Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated wrote.

"News of his death at age 78 circulated Monday morning, and his passing reinforces both Thompson’s pioneering impact at Georgetown and the void of fearless leadership that currently exists among college coaches. He was first, biggest and best in so many ways. If you’re crafting the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches, he’s one of four faces on it. Non-negotiable."