In April 2019, shortly after the Bulls acquired Otto Porter Jr. from the Washington Wizards, the team held its morning shootaround to prepare for a road game against the Wizards at Georgetown University.
Porter's season had ended two weeks earlier because of a right shoulder injury. But his upbeat attitude that day went beyond his strong showing in his first 15 games with the Bulls, in which he averaged 17.5 points, shot 48.8 percent from 3-point range and helped his new team to a 7-8 mark.
It went to where the Bulls were that day.
"I’m never leaving this place. This is always going to be my home, so anytime I can come back to Georgetown or come back to D.C., you know I’m always going to pay my respects,” Porter said that day. “I always come back, see my former coaches and also see the guys. This is my family. This isn’t just this is where I went to school. That’s how strong this brotherhood of Georgetown is to me.’’
NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, the coach of the Hoyas, even stopped by the Bulls’ morning shootaround that day.
“He’s carrying on the tradition,” Porter said. “This university is based on tradition, and to have one of their prime guys to represent Georgetown from when it was huge — and it’s still huge — it means everything.’’
That tradition doesn't exist without the mammoth presence of former coach John Thompson, who passed away at 78 following a Hall of Fame career that drew tributes from across the sporting world on Monday. That included Porter weighing in via his Instagram account.
Recruited out of the St. Louis area, Porter played two seasons at Georgetown under Thompson's son, John Thompson III, before declaring early for the NBA draft, where the Washington Wizards selected him with the third overall pick in 2013. At Georgetown, Porter averaged 9.7 points his freshman year and 16.2 points his sophomore year, which led to a 25-7 team record and a Big East championship.
The elder Thompson's impact at the school, and on the basketball world at large, went well beyond the court. He became the first Black head coach to win a major collegiate championship when the Hoyas claimed a national title in 1984. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, the year he retired from coaching after 27 decorated seasons. A statue bearing his image graces the front hallway of Georgetown's practice facility.
"I could go all day about how much you mean to me!" Porter wrote in part in his Instagram post. "How much you mean to my family! How much you mean to the GTown family! I am lost for words! This hurts bad!! WE LOVE YOU!!"
That love for Thompson is flowing from many places on Monday.