Georgetown basketball coach Patrick Ewing said he hopes to carry on the legacy of his former coach and mentor John Thompson, who died three days before his 79th birthday on Sunday.
“His legacy will always live on,” Ewing, a Knicks legend, said on a video call with 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.”
Ewing played at Georgetown and won the 1984 national championship under Thompson. He returned to the school as a coach in 2017 after a 17-year NBA career.
The 58-year-old Ewing said he considered Thompson to be a second father, revealing he visited Thompson just two days before he passed. The celebrated Hoyas coach had been hospitalized but was released to his home a couple weeks before his death.
“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.”
In honor of Thompson, Ewing said Georgetown players would likely wear a patch on their jerseys and that he planned to speak to the university about putting Thompson’s name on its home court.
There’s already a building named after Thompson on the Georgetown campus. The Thompson Center was opened in 2016 to serve all athletes in all sports, featuring a life-size statue of Thompson in the main lobby.
“His teachings continue to guide me,” Ewing said. “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.”