Washington

Patsos: There needs to be more coaches like John Thompson Jr.

Washington

The basketball community as a whole suffered a devastating loss on Monday, as longtime Georgetown head coach John Thompson Jr. passed away at age 78.

Thompson had plenty of success on the floor during his 27 seasons in charge at Georgetown. The Hoyas went to three Final Fours during Thompson's tenure and cut down the nets as National Champions in 1984. Thompson was the first Black coach to win an NCAA Championship.

While Thompson left a lasting impact on the basketball world purely as a coach, it's his contributions off of it, too, as to why he was so widely respected and admired by his peers.

In the latest edition of the Wizards Talk podcast, former Maryland assistant and NBC Sports Washington analyst Jimmy Patsos explained why there is a need for more coaches to be like the late, great Thompson.

"I am concerned though, in the coaching business, we need more coaches that are like him," Patsos said. "We need some college coaches that are going to carry his torch of like the teacher, the funny guy. But then, he could take national issues, real stuff. He could see the duality of like real coaching, and then teaching. He knew how to balance it."

Patsos shared one personal anecdote of an encounter he and former Maryland head coach Gary Williams had with Thompson in the mid-1990s as an example of Thompson showing his true character.

"When we take the Maryland job, Carolina and Duke are No. 1 and No. 2 in the country," Patsos said. "Georgetown, in our backyard, is selling the most gear and they're top five and [Allen] Iverson is about to come in. But within two minutes, they're talking about Camden High School and Washington, D.C. and small schools and teaching."

 

"He wasn't this 'Big bad John' as you thought he was when you caught him over here," Patsos continued. "He's a teacher. He was very, very well thought out, whatever he did."

Over the next several years, whenever Thompson would see Patsos, the Georgetown icon would always take time to catch up. Patsos really admired that about Thompson, the way he cared about other people and their whereabouts.

"Every time I would see him, he would say 'get over here,'" Patsos said. "Last time I saw him was at the Xavier game. I said, 'Coach, I don't want to bother you.' He goes, 'sit down, we stink anyway.' He says it right away. You sit and talk to him and he goes 'How's the Wizards thing going?' He knew."

Several members of the basketball community -- those who personally knew Thompson and even those who didn't -- shared their favorite memories with the head coach on social media. Iverson told a story of how Thompson saved his life. Other former Hoya legends, such as Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing, all shared what Thompson meant to them.

Michael Wilbon, who covered Georgetown fresh out of college, said only a select few have had a bigger impact on his life than Thompson.

The number of people Thompson impacted is way too long for any list to count. Thompson truly was a legend, icon, and role model to many.

"He was so smart. He could have been President of the United States," Patsos said. "He could handle so many things and then get tough about basketball. Everything you talked about with Coach Thompson had a meaning and a purpose."

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