Scottie Pippen never played for or against John Thompson in the late, great Georgetown head coach's 27-year career.
In fact, Pippen never played Division I ball at all. The Hamburg, Ark. native spent his collegiate years at the University of Central Arkansas, then of the NAIA, after walking on to the team as a nondescript guard who graduated high school standing only 6-foot-1. Four years at UCA saw him rocket to 6-8 and flash enough potential to lure Jerry Krause into trading up three spots in the 1987 NBA Draft to nab him. The rest is history.
But, in a tribute to the late John Thompson, who passed away Monday at the age of 78, Pippen said if he had the chance to play Divison I as a heralded recruit, he would have relished the chance to play for the longtime Georgetown head coach.
"So many kids who needed a chance got one from him," Pippen wrote. "As much impact as he had on the court, he was even more successful off of it. RIP to a great man."
As Pippen was playing his craft in rural Arkansas in the early to mid-1980s, Thompson was cementing himself among the titans of college basketball. In 1982, he became the first Black head coach to make a Final Four, a tournament run that ended with a last-second Michael Jordan buzzer-beater to lift North Carolina over Thompson's Hoyas in the national championship game. In 1984, he became the first Black head coach to win a major collegiate championship, then made another Final Four the next season.
He ended his career with a national title, three Final Fours, three Coach of the Year awards and seven Big East tournament crowns on his accolade shelf. He also coached up such Hall-of-Famers as Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo in his career, which ended in a Hall-of-Fame enshrinement of his own in 1999. An immense, iconic legacy.
A legacy Pippen, Michael Jordan, Adam Silver, Otto Porter Jr. and countless more have spent Monday celebrating and honoring.