John Thompson, the former Georgetown basketball coach who led the team to a national championship in 1984, died at the age of 78, according to ESPN. The cause of his death has not been announced. Thompson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and developed legendary NBA players such as Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson.
"This is a person that, when I came to college -- I was 18 -- helped me to grow," Ewing, who is the current coach at Georgetown, said back in October. "Even though my mom and dad were always there, he was always a person I could pick up the phone and call if I had a problem or if I had a question."
Along with winning the national championship, Thompson led the Hoyas to three Final Four appearances in the 1980s while also winning seven Big East titles and leading the United States national team to a bronze medal in the Summer Olympic Games. He was Georgetown's head coach from 1972-1999 and posted a record of 596 wins and 239 losses.
"When I was hired," Thompson told Sports Illustrated in 1980, "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."
Thompson made history when winning the national title, becoming the first Black head coach to reach that feat. Back in 2018, Iverson wrote a story for the Player's Tribune and explained why Thompson is one person that demanded respect.
"And then once we were off that floor, and it was just Coach back on the court?" Iverson wrote via ClutchPoints. "He calmly told those refs, he said, 'Hey, no disrespect. No disrespect to y’all. But here's what’s going to happen: If you don’t get those four pieces of s— outta here, and I'm talking immediately — we’re gonna be forfeiting this game. Understood?' They understood man." The news of Thompson comes shortly after the death of legendary Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson who led the team to the national title in 1997.