John Thompson is best known as the former basketball coach for the Georgetown University Hoyas. After a six-year stint as a Washington D.C. high school basketball coach, Mr. Thompson took over head coaching duties at Georgetown in 1972 and made a 27-year career at the institution of higher learning.
Chief amongst his numerous accomplishments is the distinction of being the first African American head coach to win a national championship in in any major American college sport. In 1984 Coach Thompson successfully coached the Hoyas to an NCAA championship with an 84-75 win over a very talented University of Houston squad. The University of Houston team at the time garnered the nickname Phi Slama Jama for their explosive fast break play and acrobatics around the rim. The two most prominent players from the highly athletic squad are the hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Thompson was born in September of 1941 and grew up in Washington D.C. where he excelled as a star center for Archbishop Carroll High School. After playing in three straight city championship games from 1958-1960 the man who would eventually grow into a 6’10” 270 frame moved 400 miles from home to attend Providence College in Rhode Island. At the time of his college graduation in 1964, John Thompson left Providence College as the all-time leader for the school in points and field goal percentage. For his efforts, he has recognized accordingly as an All-America basketball player his senior year.
After playing two seasons in the NBA and picking up two NBA championships in 1965 and 1966 as a backup center for the hall of Famer Bill Russell with the Boston Celtics Thompson put his playing days behind him while still in his mid-20s and shifted career paths to pursue his true calling of being a basketball coach. John returned to Washington D.C. where his successful coaching record of 122-28 with St. Anthony High School garnered the attention of Georgetown University who hired him as their head coach despite his having no previous college coaching experience.
At the age of 30 Coach, John Thompson took over a Georgetown basketball program that had gone 3-23 the year before his arrival. Thompson quickly turned the team around and over his 27 years at the helm posted an impressive winning percentage where he won more than 71 percent of his games.
When John Thompson stepped down from his head coaching post on January 8, 1999, he retired from the game mid-season and only four wins shy of reaching the 600 win mark for his career. Thompson went on record as siting issues with his marriage as being behind his unexpectedly early retirement. Later that same year on October 1, 1999, John Thompson was inducted into the basketball hall of fame.
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