John Thompson, the legendary coach who literally and figuratively towered over the Georgetown Hoyas collegiate basketball program in the 1980s, has died. He was 78.
Thompson became a near-mythical figure when he became the first Black man to win the NCAA basketball championship in 1984. He also won two NBA championships with the Boston Celtics in 1965 and 1966 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
The news that Thompson passed away was confirmed by his surviving family members on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, according to Washington, D.C.’s The Team 980 and 95.9 FM, which air Hoyas games, and later confirmed by ABC News. His cause of death had not been released as of this writing.
BREAKING: Former Georgetown coach John Thompson has died, according to friends and family.
There is no word on a cause yet. Thompson was 78 years old.
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) August 31, 2020
The cause of death has not been determined by press time.
Thompson is arguably most famous for taking the Hoyas to three consecutive Division I NCAA championships in a row between 1983 and 1985, winning the title in 1984. He also was the coach of three future Hall of Fame players: Patrick Ewing, Allen “A.I.” Iverson and Alonzo Mourning.
He was a formidable figure in both stature and presence. He stood as tall or taller than most of his players and developed a reputation as a no-nonsense coach who protected, nurtured and became a fatherly figure to his mostly Black players.
Thompson is the patriarch of a coaching dynasty at Georgetown. His son, John Thompson III, became a head coach in the program in the late 1990s, and his most famous player, Ewing, is currently the head coach at Georgetown.
Quickly after learning of his passing on Monday morning, accolades for this venerated D.C. figure began pouring in.
First, check out the memorial on Thompson on ESPN below.
Time made me realize John Thompson’s greatness as a communicator, an educator and as a friend to the players he coached.
There’s a reason why his players talk more about what he taught them about life than on the court and why their loss today hurts like a parent gone. pic.twitter.com/gDrrzZtWpu
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 31, 2020
💔 Legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson has passed away, per @team980.
— Kendall Baker (@TheKendallBaker) August 31, 2020
John Thompson is a legend in every sense of that word. He was the first African American head coach to lead a team to a national championship. What he did off the court, fighting social injustice and racism, set a standard. We have lost a titan. May he Rest In Peace. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/kOYPMeSS2F
— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) August 31, 2020
RIP JOHN THOMPSON
The first African-American coach to win a National Championship.
The legendary Georgetown Coach also won 2 NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics. pic.twitter.com/xMtOwSEZ38
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 31, 2020
A list of John Thompson accolades:
– First African-American head coach to win a major collegiate championship
– 2× NBA champion ('65, '66)
– NCAA champion ('84)
– NABC Coach of the Year ('85)
– 🥉 Olympics ('88)
– 3× Big East COTY ('80, '87, '92)
– HOF class of '99
R.I.P Coach pic.twitter.com/eAq7TDhymT
— Adam Howes (@Howsito) August 31, 2020