RIP John Thompson

  • Hall of fame Georgetown coach John Thompson passed away yesterday at the age of 78. Thompson was the first black head coach to win an NCAA championship in men’s basketball in 1984 over Houston.

    As a player, Thompson played at Providence where he was an honorable mention All-American in his senior season in 1964. He was the 25th pick (3rd round) in the 1964 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and played 2 years in the NBA winning championships both seasons.

    As a coach, Thompson spent 27 seasons at Georgetown before retiring after 1999 where he won 596 games including the 1984 NCAA title. He reached 3 Final Fours overall, won 7 Big East titles, and was a 2x national coach of the year winner.

  • Have to admit that I didn’t care for Thompson in his heyday, or the Big East style of play in general. When I went to the 1984 Final Four at the Kingdome, I was pulling for Houston (w/Olajuwon & Phi Slamma Jamma) in the final, which the Hoyas (w/Patrick Ewing) won.

    It wasn’t until later that I found out how hard he worked to make sure his kids graduated (at something like a 95% rate). And that one of his role models was KU’s own John McLendon, who couldn’t play for the Jayhawks due to his skin color, but went on to a Hall Of Fame coaching career.

    All in all, a class act. RIP Coach Thompson.

  • Time mellows our impressions of people. Dan Wentzel article today is well worth reading.

  • I’ll always remember John Thompson for messing up the olympic team in 1988 so bad we got the 1992 dream team.

  • @BigBad That US-USSR semi final game is on Youtube… might have to rewatch it. All I remember is Sabonis had 300 rebounds and Danny Manning had 0 points.

  • @BigBad and @DanR

    Pros were coming either way. Even if not in 1992, by 1996 we would have had pros. If anything, that probably means no Magic or Bird on the original “Dream Team” if we have to back things up to 1996, which may change that team (maybe no Jordan or Barkley, either). That probably changes the overall impact of that team (still great players that lead the US to gold, but not the all time icons).

  • I was in Las Vegas in the summer of 1988 on my Honeymoon when I found myself standing next to Big John at a bank of slot machines. We talked Basketball and he found out that I was on my honeymoon and reached in his pocket and gave me two dinner passes for my wife and I at the old Stardust. I read years later that he was turned down for an ownership in a Casino. I became a big fan of his when he threw his arms around Fred Brown after he had thrown the ball into the hands of James Worthy in the final seconds costing Georgetown the national Championship. By the way, the dinner show was the “Follies Bergere” and the final curtain ended up with two dozen topless dancers on the wings of an actual 747 airliner.

  • @wrwlumpy wow man. That’s fantastic. How did your wife like the show? Haha

  • @wrwlumpy that’s so cool! Very thoughtful

  • @approxinfinity maybe he gave them to lump to keep from getting in trouble🤣 totally kidding @wrwlumpy! Did u keep ticket stubs?

  • I think Olympic basketball should go back to the college players. Then maybe I’d watch.

  • That Houston (loved the Phi Slamma Jamma) Georgetown matchup is what got a very little kid that was me into watching college basketball.

  • The thing I remember most about that Final Four was the Friday practice session. Unbeknownst to me, I was sitting in the same section as a lot of the coaches. Got some great candid (if a bit blurry) photos of Jimmy V, Jerry Tarkanian, DePaul’s Ray Meyer et al.

  • @wissox

    USA could not be competitive internationally if we went back to college players unless there was a firm cap (say, 24 and under) on international players also. Otherwise, we would be back in 1988, where the Russian players were just further along the development curve than the US collegians.

    As I posted above, even if the USA somehow had won in 1988 (likely not the best team in the field anyway), 1992 or 1996 would have probably resulted in losses (and possibly no medal if they go all the way to 1996). The world was catching up. If the US were to field a team of collegiate players now against the rest of the world’s best, that team probably would not even make the medal round.

  • @justanotherfan I agree, but the funny thing is that I find Olympic basketball incredibly boring. I’d rather see our college heroes try to knock off the internationals than Steph, Lebron, etc.

  • @wissox The only way the US could compete doing that is if FIBA imposed age restrictions similar to what FIFA does in men’s soccer for the Olympics. Even if FIBA made men’s olympic basketball U-21, the US team would still be loaded with pros. The only way to get a college team would be to make the men’s olympic basketball U-19 and I would have minimal desire to watch that as olympic basketball just like I don’t care about watching men’s olympic soccer because it’s a lower quality product.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 I understand all of that, but it’d still be more interesting to me than watching people getting excited about beating Djibouti by 84 points.

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