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John Thompson

John Thompson (1941–2020), legendary Georgetown basketball coach

by Kirk Fox

John Thompson was the legendary former head basketball coach at Georgetown University who was the first black head coach to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship when he led Georgetown to a win in 1984.    

  • Died: Thursday, August 31, 2020 (Who else died on August 31?) 
  • Details of Death: Died at the age of 78.  
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Georgetown Basketball Coaching Legend  

Thompson took over as head coach of the relatively unknown basketball program at Georgetown University in 1972. He built a powerhouse program there, becoming the first Black head coach to win an NCAA Championship in 1984. His teams made it to the final four two other seasons, losing to Villanova in the 1985 national championship game in one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history. He coached many top players including Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson and had an incredible graduation rate for his players of 97%. He won almost 600 games at Georgetown and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Thompson played two seasons in the NBA for the Boston Celtics.

On when he was hired by Georgetown 

“When I was hired, I had a talk with the president [then the Rev. Robert Henle, S.J.]. All that Father Henle said about basketball was that he hoped I could take a team to the NIT every now and then. I thought to myself that I’d eat my hat if I couldn’t do better than that. But I didn’t say anything except,  ‘Yes, sir, I’ll try,’ because you don’t want to set yourself up.” —Sports Illustrated 1980

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What they said about him

Full Obituary: NY Daily News

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