He is an inspiration for young, Black players of this generation in the time when they were not accepted by the society and were taken for granted. He opened many doors for amply of coaches, too.
John Thompson Jr. often shared his story when he was being hired as a coach to the university’s moribund men’s basketball program in the spring of 1972, he was told by the President Georgetown “that it would be great if he could win a few games. Maybe even qualify for a slice of postseason affirmation in the National Invitation Tournament.”
However, Thompson was already much less concerned about invitations than he was in booming the bigger tournament party along with the sport’s culturally protected borders. Question arises that why tip his hand? Why he surrendered so easily the menace of expectation to his employer and create an abrupt narrative for falling short?
Simply and insightfully he replied, “Yes, sir, I’ll try.”
By his second season, Thompson’s team the 3-23 inherited 500, when the Hoyas made to the tournament in the N.C.A.A. for the first time since 1943. He became the first Black coach to win the Division I national title into dozens of years of Thompson’s Hall of Fame career, in 1984.
Thompson brought three players from the small Catholic high school team without any time to train his first Georgetown squad as he was coaching in Washington and two other cities from that basketball-rich city. All players were Black, instantly raising eyebrows and exhuming a measure of gossip causes resentment at the mostly white Jesuit bastion of academia.
Thompson didn’t blink, or back off from that point. In the early 1980’s across the first decade were better known as the “Patrick Ewing Era” and he knew that his terms will make the program run. Unsurprisingly the response by the news media’s was the dubbing of Thompson’s player defensive methodology as “Hoya Paranoia,” was mockingly swift.
He died on Monday at the age of 78 and in the middle of what has become a long-overdue movement to confront America’s racial hardships, it would seem appropriate to reorganize those imprudent characterizations of Thompson’s relationship with the at-large college basketball community. The rhyme was memorable for sure and we are obsessed with Thompson’s policies and within a sport that once efficient or renowned the likes of Bob Knight and now sound more suspicious on the part of what then was an overwhelmingly white news media?
Thompson said the last time we spoke, at halftime of a Georgetown game during the 2017-18 season, Ewing’s first as head coach, “A lot of things we did was attributed to paranoia, but it wasn’t.” “It was the decisions media said we made as an educational institution. And in Patrick’s case, it was because of his talent and the demand being so much higher on him.”
The news media strategies in other words, were far from the random ravings of a man who, at 6-foot-10 and 300 pounds, was truly a tower of game-changing power, willing to do and say things that made people necessarily uncomfortable.
He was ahead of his time and speaking to a generation of young players and particularly those who thought that it is impossible to achieve the statistically implausible goal of being Black and coaching on a major college campus.