Roy Williams explains the 'John Thompson Jr. rule'


If you had the privilege of sitting between John Thompson Jr. and Dean Smith at a basketball game, what lengths would go to keep that seat?

If a ball came toward the three of you, would you catch it? Sure, that's an easy one. What if a 6'6 wing came diving over the sideline after a loose ball and you had to throw yourself in front of the two coaching legends? 

Still on board? Great, because that means you're an avid follower of the "John Thompson rule."

Here's North Carolina basketball coach and Hall of Famer Roy Williams' explanation on the rule and it's origins:

"Many years ago I'm sitting between Dean Smith and John Thompson [Jr.] in the front row at a gym," Williams told The Sports Junkies Thursday. "[Thompson] said, alright you little blankity blank, if the ball starts coming over here toward me and coach Smith, it's your responsibility to stop it. If a player comes over here diving it's your responsibility to get in front of us, we get hurt it's your fault."

I don't know about you or Williams, but if I'm an up-and-coming basketball coach sitting between two of the best to ever do it, defending those two from a diving player is right around the least I'd be willing to do. 

And then for those like Williams, you then earn the right to force other young coaches to agree to the Thompson rule for you. 

"So the last couple of years I've sort of graduated into that level and I'll be standing or sitting beside a young coach and I'll say 'This is the John Thompson rule. It is your responsibility to stop any ball or any player coming over here and putting us in danger,'" Williams said.


It's hard to think of many coaches who commanded the level of respect Thompson did during his life. So even for those coaches who never met him, it'd be hard to imagine anyone not take the rule seriously if they heard it, as silly as it may sound.