John Thompson, Legendary Georgetown Basketball Coach, Dies at 78

Thompson was the first Black coach to win the NCAA national championship

John Thomspon Jr.
Photo credit: Getty Images

John Thompson Jr., the legendary basketball coach who led the Georgetown Hoyas to the NCAA national championship in 1984, died Monday. He was 78.

The Team 980, a D.C. sports radio station, first reported the news. No cause of death has been announced.

Thompson, affectionately known as “Big John,” became the first Black coach to win the NCAA championship when the Hoyas topped the Houston Cougars by nine points in 1984. He led the Hoyas to three other Final Fours in the 1980s and also coached the U.S. men’s basketball team to the bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics.

Among the players he coached in his 27-year career at Georgetown included Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson. His son, John Thompson III, later coached Georgetown from 2004-2017, leading them to one Final Four appearance.

As a player, John Thompson won two NBA titles with the Boston Celtics. Later in his career, he would serve as a basketball commentator.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1999 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.


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