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John Thompson passes away at 78

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The former Georgetown men’s basketball head coach never played for the Wizards, but some recent alumni have connections with him.

John Thompson
Former Georgetown men’s basketball head coach John Thompson passed away today.

There have been a number of notable people in the Washington Wizards organization who passed away recently like long-time Bullet Wes Unseld and former team owner Irene Pollin.

And now, another local basketball icon has passed away, though he was never directly part of the organization: John Thompson. He died earlier today at the age of 78.

Thompson was the former head coach of the Georgetown University men’s basketball team from 1972-1999. The Hoyas went 596-239 during his time there, making three Final Fours in 1981-82, 1983-84 and 1984-85, and winning the NCAA Division I national championship in the 1983-84 season. Thompson came to Georgetown after serving as the head coach at St. Anthony High School.

Before his coaching career, Thompson had a short stint playing in the NBA, where he was a backup center for the Boston Celtics from 1964-66, winning a championship in both years during the Bill Russell Era. Thompson played college basketball at Providence.

Since his coaching career ended, Thompson began a successful broadcasting career where he served as a color analyst and also had a local radio show. For many of you who are younger, you probably know him better in these capacities.

Thompson has some ties to the Wizards and Monumental Sports & Entertainment. His son, John Thompson, III is Monumental Basketball’s Director of Athlete Development and Engagement. JTIII, as he is also known, was also the head coach for the Georgetown men’s basketball team from 2004-17.

In addition, Patrick Ewing, Georgetown’s current men’s basketball head coach also has ties with the Wizards. Though he is better known as a Hall of Fame center for the Knicks and Georgetown’s greatest player of all-time from 1981-85, Ewing was an assistant coach for the Wizards in the 2002-03 NBA season before taking on similar roles with other teams.

2020 has been a trying year given the deaths in the basketball community, which also include former NBA Commissioner David Stern and superstar player Kobe Bryant. It is also notable for being the year of the coronavirus, which has stopped life as we know it.

And now, another major basketball legend has left us.

Rest in peace, Coach Thompson.