Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing was among multiple Black college basketball coaches to pay tribute to the late John Thompson Jr. with a towel draped over their right shoulders on Wednesday.
The tribute came about during offseason meetings that included many Black coaches who wanted to honor Thompson, according to ESPN's Myron Medcalf. Not wanting to take the attention away from Thompson's tribute, one coach revealed his plans to Medcalf on condition of anonymity to continue wearing the towel all throughout the season.
The legendary Hoyas coach wore a towel draped over his shoulder during his illustrious coaching career, bringing Georgetown into the national limelight with the 1984 National Championship, five Big East titles, and three Final Four appearances. Thompson died at age 78 on Aug. 31.
Ewing played under Thompson's most successful stretch as Georgetown's coach, winning three straight Big East titles, making the NCAA Tournament four straight times and ultimately winning his lone championship.
Many of the African-American coaches plan to continue wearing the towel over their shoulders for the entire season. George Washington's Jamion Christian also took part in the heartwarming gesture on college basketball's first day back when his team played at Navy.
The Fox Sports broadcast for the Georgetown game also said UMBC chose to wear their social justice jerseys for their season opener against the Hoyas. It was a great opportunity to honor the influential coach who often spoke out for social justice and blazed the trail for Black coaches in the industry. Thompson was the first African-American coach in Division 1 to win a national title. The Retrievers coaching staff also sported the towels during the playing of the national anthem pregame.