The basketball community is in a state of mourning after longtime Georgetown former men’s basketball coach John Thompson died Sunday at the age of 78. The first African American coach to win an NCAA championship in college basketball (1984), Thompson coached several impact players who went on to star in the NBA in the college ranks, a list that includes the longtime former New York Knicks star and current Georgetown manager Patrick Ewing.
Ewing released a statement about the death of his college coach, describing Thompson as a “father figure, confidant and role model.” Ewing and Georgetown reached the NCAA championship in three of the four years he played for the team with Thompson, including in 1984 when the Hoyas won the national title.
“Georgetown University, the sport of basketball and the world have lost someone who I consider to be a father figure, a confidant and a role model,” reads Ewing’s statement. “(John Thompson) did so much to influence my life and the people he coached and led along the way. However, his reach went far beyond those he personally knew, he changed the world and helped shape the way we watch him. He was a great coach but an even better person, and his legacy is eternal. My condolences and prayers go out to his family”.