The following is an excerpt from an article on the Fox Sports Network by Jason Whitlock about former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson:
“The Fab Five are taking credit for the real accomplishments of John Thompson’s and Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas.
“It was Thompson’s all-black, Ewing-led teams a decade before the Fab Five that shook the foundation of college basketball, changed the complexion of starting lineups across the country, opened coaching doors that had previously been closed to blacks and paved the way for black sportswriters at major newspapers.”
Jason, got it all wrong; he had forgot on March 19, 1966 the NCAA men’s basketball title game when all-white and No. 1-ranked Kentucky faced an all-black Texas Western team?
The game took place at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House. I was there when Texas Western pulled the biggest upset in college basketball history. That team changed the face of college basketball forever—not John Thompson Jr.
John Thompson and Georgetown University did absolutely nothing to pave the way for black sportswriters at major newspapers He, in fact, did much like Don King did in boxing—he stunted the growth of blacks in the media by refusing access to his players. He has since become a “know it all” in so-called major media and looking over the shoulder of John Thompson III while he tries to coach the Georgetown University basketball team.
The Washington Post sports editor at the time, George Solomon, and his staff were treated like sports media stepchildren. Former Washington Post sports writers Dave Dupree, Michael Wilbon and David Aldridge all had front-row seats to his sports media charade.
When he could not win a game and had no one in so-called major media to promote Georgetown basketball, he turned to a little black-oriented radio station W-O-O-K and The Original Inside Sports, hosted by yours truly. I gave him 5 minutes to promo Georgetown basketball every Monday.
When he finally had some winning success, he hired a white man as his play-by-play announcer for Georgetown basketball, at none other than W-O-O-K Radio.
He would never tell how he got his first radio experience on The Original Inside Sports on W-O-O-K Radio with Harold Bell.
Jason, I was also puzzled by your quote saying, “It’s easy to forgive Jalen Rose for his lack of self-awareness. It’s America. In this country, self-awareness and common sense are our most rare commodities.”
Jason, must have been asleep under a rock when Kentucky and coaching icon Adolph Rupp played Texas Western, I wonder where was his self-awareness?
This observation by him was really over the top when he said, “John Thompson’s players were the inner-city black kids who left a legacy of jobs and playing opportunities for other impoverished minorities that exposes the lack of substance in the Fab 5’s popularization of college basketball.”
He put his foot in his mouth again he said, “Hoya Paranoia is the story that deserves celebration and should serve as a teaching tool. Fab Five is a safe, harmless story celebrating black kids for choosing style over substance.”
You really think that the John Thompson and Hoya Paranoia deserves a celebration?
If you interviewed 100 former Georgetown players off the record, I bet 90 will say John Thompson was a fraud!
Georgetown players like star player Merlin Wilson (left) and his teammates serve kids at one of my annual KIT toy parties
He betrayed both his wife and his lifetime friend, protector and assistant coach Bob Grier (aka “Bat Man”) by stealing the affections of Grier’s girlfriend, Georgetown academic advisor Mary Finley. He also kicked Mike Riley, his former player and assistant coach for over three decades, to the curb and under the bus. The word loyalty to John is spelled O-N-E W-A-Y!
I have known John Thompson since he attended my alma mater, Brown Middle School, in northeast Washington, DC. I was there to watch him develop as a player and a coach, and he was overrated in both.
John’s NBA career was a bigger fraud than his college coaching career. His NBA claim to fame? “I backed up Bill Russell.” The late Boston Celtic coach, the legendary Red Auerbach, was a dear friend and mentor to me. I know how much backing up Russell he did. It was like sending a sailboat to back up the sinking of the Titanic—one of the same!
Auerbach put John into the expansion draft because he was too soft. Check out how many seven-footers were put in the expansion draft during the Red Auerbach and Bill Russell era. The “Big Bad John” you saw and heard during coaching career , saw the handwriting on the wall and retired from the NBA.
I already knew what Red had known all the time: You can’t teach and dictate—-heart.
John Thompson could have played the lead role of The Tin Man on Broadway and in the movie The Wizard of Oz. He had no heart!
As those of us who knew the real John Thompson have often said, “If he had his high school teammate Tom Hoover’s heart, he would have been a world-beater.” Hoover played in the NBA for several years as an “enforcer” and “hatchet man” for the New York Knicks.
Back in the day on the playground, when John tried to play like a point guard, I would banish him from the court and make him sit on the hill. He’d sit there until Sandy Freeman and Bob Grier, his protectors, showed up. He would dare not raise his voice and use the type of profanity he used as the coach on the Georgetown bench. I have no idea where he picked up that part of his coaching personality (Bobby Knight).
John Thompson’s secret to success: He was big and black, and he used profanity and “the race card” to successfully intimidate his players and white folks! He gained wide recognition in the sports world when he hugged Hoya player Freddy Brown after he mistakenly threw a pass intended for one of his teammates to North Carolina’s James Worthy. It was the closing seconds of the 1982 NCAA tournament final, and the outcome of the game—an eventual 63-62 loss—was still hanging in the balance.
After the game, Thompson was seen hugging Brown in a picture that went around the sports world. Today, Freddy Brown’s feelings about his old coach are X-rated. In a Washington Post magazine article, John said, “My mother better not get in my way when a dollar is on the line.” In that same story, he claimed money could overcome racism in America.
Sometimes it is best to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Early in his second season at Georgetown, when his job was on the line, in the wee hours of the morning someone hung a banner in the Georgetown Gym that read “John Thompson the nigger coach must go!” Back then I was his first line of defense in the media. When he called my home at 3 a.m. explaining what had happened, I was pissed off. I called the troops (black media) to meet me at Georgetown the next morning for a press conference involving John Thompson. I was told by John the President Timonthy Healy the man responsible for hiring him had called the press conference.
InJohn took over a Georgetown basketball team that went 3-23. In 1973 George town was still having a difficult time winning games. In the wee hours of the morning after another lost someone hung a banner saying, “John Thompson the nigger coah must go!”
I must admit, he played me like a beaten drum. I later discovered he’d hung the banner himself.
All that mattered to him was the end result: It helped him keep his job.
The University President Father Henley was scared of the institution being seen in the national spotlight as racist. He assured media at a hastily called press conference that John Thompson’s job was safe. Mission accomplished, and the rest is tainted college basketball history.
This is the same college coach who took money under the table from his Georgetown-designated player sports agent, David Falk. The player transactions and kickbacks made him a millionaire before he left the university.
Falk also short changed NBA Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley out of several million dollars, according to Dantley.
I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve heard he misused from the bank accounts of Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.
Former Maryland University and NBA All-Star John Lucas was also one of his suckers. John is one of my favorite people, but he got caught up in the hype.
In a conversation with Dantley on his last visit to DC as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets, he said, “David was not alone when it comes to laying the blame for misusing my money. Donald Dell, the CEO and founder of the company ProServe, must share some of the responsibility.”
Dantley learned of the fraud when I called his mother Virginia and informed her of the missing monies from his account. She was at first in denial, but Dantley’s new wife, who was an attorney, had an audit of Falk’s books.
In the meantime, John Thompson’s financial empire continued to grow. There were the slot machines, real-estate deals and the home he shared with his white mistress Mary Finley in Las Vegas. Please excuse “the race card”! This proves that not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The Washington Post published Pt. 1 of a two-part series investigation of these undercover discrepancies, but Pt. 2 never appeared. The investigative journalist was Bill Brubaker. According to my newsroom sources at the Washington Post, all said the exact same thing: Sports Editor George Solomon killed the series without explanation.
The Washington Post investigation was inspired by my January 22, 1999 commentary in the Afro-American Newspaper, titled “The Two Faces of John Thompson.”
John Thompson also lied about how he stared down and backed drug kingpin and killer Rayful Edmond into a corner.
The lie or rumor was that Thompson threatened Edmond to stay away from his players.
If you believe John Thompson did that, you also believe Jason Whitlock’s story of how Big John changed the face of college basketball.
I spoke with the late DC police chief, Maurice Turner, and a DEA supervisor friend of mine who was also involved in the case—both said nothing could have been further from the truth.
Chief Turner said, “When John was meeting with Rayful, he called me every hour on the hour to make sure I would have a police presence to protect him. He was scared to death.”
The lies continue; I have not forgotten the Nike deal that he carved out at my expense.
I was the first ever Nike sports and marketing representative hired here in the DC metro area. As a rep, my role was to outfit the different athletes, media, entertainers and politicians with the Nike brand. In other words, I gave away Nike apparel.
Once I became established as the Nike rep, I contacted my college coach, the legendary Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines of Winston-Salem State. I wanted him to outfit his team with the Nike brand. But he had an ongoing deal with the great and legendary coach John McLendon. Coach McLendon was a rep for Converse.
I then took the same proposal to the campus of Georgetown for my good friend John Thompson to look over. Remember, this is the same brother I gave five minutes to promote Georgetown basketball every Monday on Inside Sports.
He looked over the proposal and said he would get back to me. I left the campus and started the walk back to the Nike store, which was just a few minutes from the campus. When I arrived at the store, I received a telephone call from Nike NBA promotions and marketing rep John Phillips. He was responsible for hiring me.
I returned his call to the home office in Portland, Oregon, only to discover my friend John Thompson had called to cut his own deal!
John Thompson is truly a backstabber in every sense of the word. His loyalty is only to himself!
The changes that he put me through are nothing compared to the changes he put his family though. You will never see or hear “The Real Warrior,” his ex-wife Gwen, who is responsible for holding the family together. I was in attendance at their wedding.
Gwen is the real “Undercover Boss” of the family and she is totally responsible for the three children turning out to be decent human beings.
When she filed for divorce, “Big John” became a stalker hiding behind trees outside of her residence trying to intimidate her. It got so bad, one of her close friends had her lawyer call me to advise her on how to proceed against his bullying tactics.
The last thing he wanted to do was go to court, where all his skeletons would come out his closet.
My advice to her lawyer: stay the course and keep the threat of a courthouse appearance as a vehicle for an out-of-court settlement. He settled out of court.
I gave Big Bad John and his Georgetown basketball team their first ever “community presence” as Santa’s Helpers at my annual Christmas toy parties for needy children. Ronnie would often accompany him to the parties.
Ronnie Thompson, his youngest son and a Comcast sportscaster, is named after his father’s former “best friend,” Ronnie Watts. Ronnie is a native Washintonian, and played basketball at Wilson High School and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
He played several years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. Ronnie and Bill Russell were great friends and were often seen on television in AT&T telephone commercials together.
Ronnie is a great human being; he disappeared without a trace. It is rumored that John also put him in a financial trick bag.
John’s favorite “bagman” was James Wiggins. Wiggins was a local high school booster. He served as John’s right-hand man for the Urban Coalition Basketball Summer League. They are no longer friends: Wiggin’s hands are just as dirty as John’s. Rumor has it that these two parted ways because one of the bags of cash came up missing.
David Falk is still operating out of Georgetown for John Thompson III, so that means little has changed—like father, like son. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
John’s old friend Sandy Freeman, at a recent high school alumni summer picnic, told me he had a recent conversation with John and he said, “Harold Bell holds a grudge too long.”
That takes the cake; this is the kettle calling the pot black again. Former DeMatha High School coach and basketball Hall of Famer Morgan Wooten is one of the class acts in all of sports, but John Thompson has been “player hating” on him for decades!
Big Bad John, I have forgiven but I have not forgotten!
- A journey, rather than an event
- A form of remembering
- An act of empowerment
- The result of a conscious decision more than an emotion
- A denouncing of the wrongful act
- Making right what can be fixed and letting go what cannot
- An acknowledgement of the intrinsic worth of the offender
- A gift, rather than a burden
Forgiveness Is Not…
- Excusing what happened
- Tolerating continue wrongdoing
- Denying our anger
- Letting people off the hook
- Saying “It does not matter”
- Feeling an emotional “love” for the offender
- Something that can be willed