Georgetown HC Patrick Ewing Discusses John Thompson's Legacy, Impact

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2020

Georgetown head coach John Thompson, left, gives a happy pat to the most valuable player Patrick Ewing, April 2, 1984 after Georgetown defeated the Houston Cougars, 84-75, in the NCAA playoff in Seattle's Kingdome. (AP Photo)
Anonymous/Associated Press

Georgetown men's basketball coach Patrick Ewing said on Friday that he'll try to make sure the legacy of John Thompson, the Hoyas' former coach who died Sunday at the age of 78, lives on within the program.

The 11-time NBA All-Star, who played under Thompson, returned to his alma mater to take over the coaching staff in April 2017.

"His legacy will always live on," Ewing told reporters. "Through me, through Alonzo (Mourning), through Dikembe (Mutombo), through all of the people he's coached. He has done a great job of teaching us not only to be great athletes but also great human beings. Now it's my role, my responsibility to keep doing those things to the kids I'm teaching."

The 58-year-old explained he recently visited Thompson when he returned home from a hospital stay, but he didn't know it'd be the last time they would meet.

"I was able to go over there the Friday before he passed," Ewing said. "We sat and talked and just laughed. I didn't know it was going to be goodbye because I was planning to go back. Then I got the text late on Sunday that he had passed."

The Jamaica native added: "His teachings continue to guide me. I will definitely miss the opportunity to pick up a phone and call him with whatever questions I might have. Not only just coaching but also my life."

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Ewing added the Hoyas will explore trying to add Thompson's name on its basketball court at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., and they will probably wear a patch on their jerseys during the 2020-21 season in remembrance of the Hall of Fame coach.

Thompson, who played professionally with the Boston Celtics and won two NBA titles, took over the Georgetown program in 1972. He transformed the Hoyas into a national powerhouse.

The program reached new heights during Ewing's college career from 1981 through 1985, reaching the national championship game three times in four years and winning the 1984 title.

Thompson, who stepped down in 1999, was there three years ago when Ewing returned to campus to take over as head coach.

"Great job," Thompson told Ewing during an embrace. "Great job."

The program is in different hands, but Georgetown basketball has long maintained Thompson's imprint, and Ewing will work to make sure that doesn't change.