John Thompson, the longtime legendary head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas, has died at the age of 78. Thompson is the second legendary college coach in less than a week to pass away as this past Thursday, Hall of Fame coach for the Arizona Wildcats Lute Olson died at 85.

Thompson spent his entire collegiate coaching career with the Hoyas, transforming them into a college basketball powerhouse in the 80s. Thompson’s Hoyas teams typically went deep in the NCAA Tournament in the 80s, making the final three times in four years and winning in 1984.

While the Hall of Famer experienced success on the court, Thompson will also be remembered for how he developed his players into adulthood in addition to being great basketball players. It seems like more and more collegiate coaches these days only focus on the sport aspect of coaching and they show how they are inappropriate leaders for young people but college coaches have an impact in their players’ lives at a stage where they progress from kid to adult and John Thompson understood that.

Thompson challenged his players to be better people but also loved his players, defended his players, and fought for his players even after they graduated (he had a 97 percent graduation rate). John Thompson was like a father figure to many of these players and in turn, those players have consistently spoken positively about him throughout the years.

That was the theme of the many tributes to Thompson. This was a man who gave people second chances when no one else did, who stared down drug dealers when they were hanging around his players, who encouraged his players to express their individuality while being part of a team, and who fought for equality in a time when so many people in a position of privilege incorrectly thought racism was dead. It’s why so many within the Black community and those on the outside respect the things John Thompson has done and that’ll be what he’s ultimately remembered for.

[Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images]

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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