Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, NBA world mourn death of Georgetown legend John Thompson
Icons from all levels of professional basketball are showing their respects after learning about the death of former Georgetown Hoyas head coach John Thompson, including current Georgetown coach and former star Patrick Ewing. Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo are just a few of the other former Hoyas to react to the news, and Michael Jordan has also weighed in.
Thompson passed away on Sunday night at the age of 78. To many, he was a monumental and inspirational figure in college basketball. Simply put, he turned the basketball program at Georgetown into a real contender. Prior to his arrival, the team had cracked the Top 25 just once. With players like Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson under his tutelage, he went on to lead the Hoyas to 14 straight NCAA Tournaments, 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT) and three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985). In 1984, Thompson led Georgetown to an NCAA championship, becoming the first Black coach to win it all.
John Thompson’s family released this statement through Georgetown:
A statement released on behalf of the Thompson Family pic.twitter.com/UKfVd4LPRP
— Georgetown Hoops (@GeorgetownHoops) August 31, 2020
Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo all made heartfelt statements:
Georgetown University, the sport of basketball and the world has lost someone who I consider to be a father figure, confidant and role model.
We will all miss you, Coach Thompson – but we will never forget you. 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/1nP8YHLU4x
— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) August 31, 2020
The world has lost a revolutionary icon and a leader.
Today, I have lost a father figure, life long coach, and one of my greatest mentors. Coach Thompson, saved my life…. continuously motivating and molding me into the man that I am today.
— Alonzo Mourning (@iamzo33) August 31, 2020
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… https://t.co/wLPCprJ6gO
— Dikembe Mutombo (@officialmutombo) August 31, 2020
Iverson was another one of John Thompson’s great players, and the two shared a close bond. In fact, Iverson credited Thompson for “saving his life” in college.
Iverson was viewed as a the top recruit in his high school class. However, a legal issue left his professional career in doubt. His role in a brawl when he was a teenager brought a prison sentence of 15 years. Ultimately, though, he served four months and was granted clemency. Thompson was a key factor in keeping Iverson on the right track.
Michael Jordan’s 16-foot jump shot with 15 seconds remaining gave the North Carolina Tar Heels a thrilling 63-62 victory over Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Championship Game. His Airness sent out a message in honor of Thompson:
Statement from Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/PL8ASREKFD
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) August 31, 2020
Here’s NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s statement on Thompson’s passing:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver statement on John Thompson: pic.twitter.com/mrVRmqEMXs
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) August 31, 2020
Even the great Bill Russell shared a message in the wake of Thompson’s passing, noting the impact he had on his players:
Very sad to hear of my friend & teammate John Thompson’s passing this morning. Our thoughts are with his family & all of the men he brought through #Georgetown & the impact he had on so many lives. He will be greatly missed #RIP my friend pic.twitter.com/SdXrSZTnsg
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) August 31, 2020
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim sent out a heartfelt thread on his Twitter account after learning of John Thompson’s passing. Boeheim and Thompson locked horns in the Big East, but it’s clear that they shared a mutual respect for one another:
(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/QfggH6asfk
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) August 31, 2020
Like Boeheim, University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari sent out an emotional thread to highlight Thompson’s life:
Coach John Thompson passed away last night. The Hall of Fame coach was a life changer for so many. He was a great coach who built some of the best college teams of all time. His players were a who’s who of college basketball. Truly an icon in his time.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 31, 2020
Many others have paid their respects to Thompson, including Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. John Thompson may be gone, but the philosophies and mentality he instilled in his players will live on forever. May he rest in peace.