Jeff Green never played for John Thompson Jr., but he did play for his son John Thompson III at Georgetown.
So the news of Big John’s passing at the age of 78 on Aug. 30 impacted Green, the Cheverly, Md. native who now plays for the Houston Rockets, as if he did play for the Hall of Fame Coach.
“It was shocking for me to hear that, it hurt you know cause he was a guy who I looked at as one of those invincible human beings.“ Green recalled on a recent episode of the Wizards Talk Podcast.
Green received an early morning text message from Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers about the passing of Thompson Jr., who in 27 years won 596 games, including the 1984 NCAA championship.
Before Green decided to commit to Georgetown he was given a history lesson about the program from his own father, Jeffrey Green Sr., who was a die-hard Hoyas fan.
Jeff Sr. grew up in Newport News, Virginia, the same city where a skinny 6-foot basketball icon changed the culture of basketball: Allen Iverson.
“I got introduced to Allen Iverson first, before anything,” Green said. “And then when he went to Georgetown and what Georgetown meant to the culture of African-Americans. In movies, you see it there. From Starter jackets, Boyz in the Hood, everything.
Green recalled the standard set by John Thompson Jr. by the student-athletes who wore the uniforms before him. A standard that goes beyond basketball. Big John made clear day one when players arrived on campus.
“Not allowing this basketball to determine who you are, he lived by that,” Green said. “We are a University of men who are more than athletes. We know how to hold ourselves accountable to what we are doing, we know how to have conversations with people, and we are going to be articulate”.
Green remembers his time fondly on campus and those conversations with Big John, so much so he even introduced his wife Stephanie to Thompson because of how much the Hall of Fame coach meant to him.
“That’s family. That’s Georgetown,” Green told her. “That’s history in one person.”