Legendary Georgetown Coach John Thompson Dies at 78


The family of former longtime Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson says he has died at age 78, according to media reports.

Thompson, a Basketball Hall of Famer, became the first black head coach to win a national title with Georgetown in 1984.

The cause of death was unclear, according to WJLA in Washington.

Thompson's family called him a "shepherd of the sport" in a statement.

"He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else. However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend."

Among the countless college standouts and future pros Thompson coached in his trailblazing 27-year career were Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson.

Iverson thank Thompson for "saving my life" in an emotional tribute on social media.

Mutombo called Thompson a "hero and a father figure to many of us."

Thompson starred as a college player at Providence, which announced his passing with a throwback photo in a social media post.

He was later drafted in 1964 by the Boston Celtics and head coach Red Auerbach, whom Thompson credited as heavily influencing his coaching style and methods of relating to players, ESPN reported.

Thompson's playing career in the NBA ended after only two seasons. From there he pivoted into coaching, parlaying a successful six-year run at a top prep school into the job with Georgetown, in 1972.

Thompson retired from coaching in 1999, after 27 years at the helm for the Bulldogs. He finished with a career record of 596-239, good for a .714 winning percentage.

His passing prompted a flood of tributes and remembrances from around the basketball community.

Michael Jordan, who starred at North Carolina during some of Thompson's best years at Georgetown -- including 1982, when the teams met in the national title game -- said Thompson was a "great man."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thompson had a generational impact on the league.

Wizards star Bradley Beal expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to meet with Thompson while playing in Washington.

Thompson's survivors included two sons, including John Thompson III, who succeed his father as Georgetown coach, and a daughter, ESPN reported.