Last week, the world lost another legend when it was announced that Georgetown men’s basketball head coach John Thompson is dead at 78 years old. According to his family, Thompson was the first Black basketball head coach to win the NCAA National Championship; he passed away in his home this past Sunday.
“Thompson had been suffering from multiple health challenges, a family source said,”according to CNN. The cause of death is unknown. He was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away.”
Thompson was at the helm at Georgetown for 27 years and won its first and only championship in 1984. He would later speak about being labeled the first African American coach to win a National Champion.
“I was very proud of winning the national championship, and I was very proud of the fact that I was a Black American, but I didn’t like it if the statement implied that I was the first Black person who had intelligence enough to win the national championship,” he told ESPN.” I might have been the first black person who was provided with an opportunity to compete for this prize, that you have discriminated against thousands of my ancestors to deny them this opportunity.”
Last week, Seattle Storm point guard, Sue Bird weighed in on the passing of John Thompson.
“This year just doesn’t want to give us a break,” Bird told me. “I didn’t know Coach Thompson personally, but I think even before he passed, a lot of people had wonderful things to say about him.”
“How he impacted their lives and even seeing Allen Iverson at his Hall of Fame speech. Listening to interviews from Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, etc, “Bird shared. “So, while I didn’t know him personally, I’m very sad to see that he passed, but I know he had an amazing impact on his players, and anyone that he came in contact with. You can tell by the way people speak about him.”
Thompson helped develop Hall of Fame players such as, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Allen Iverson.
After news broke of Thompson’s passing, Allen Iverson took to Instagram to share that he will miss his college 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.”
Thompson played ball at Providence College and went on to win two championships with the Boston Celtics.