The late John Thompson was more than Hall of Fame college basketball coach. He was an one of the sports world’s most powerful figures whose Georgetown Hoyas was the first team and brand Hip Hop embraced during the 1980s.
Thompson passed away at age 78 at his home in Arlington, Virginia on August 30. The cause of death is unknown at press time but his family cited multiple health problems, per CNN.
When the Big East was an upstart northeastern U.S.-based conference in 1979, Thompson’s team put it on the college basketball map with the Hoyas’ signature uptempo offensive firepower, physically aggressive defense and above-the-rim style of play.
Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, sportswriters and NBA legends can attest to the primal influence of Georgetown’s enormously popular merchandise and “Hoya Paranoia” in both basketball and Hip Hop cultures.
“Georgetown had a Black coach and they had this Black rebel squad,” Chuck D tells HipHopDX. “They shook up the Big East and the biggest precedence was John Thompson and then especially when they got Patrick Ewing. It was like, ‘oh my god, they got the dude from Boston!” Patrick Ewing came in and automatically became the b-boy signature just by wearing the T-shirt under the jersey.”
During the August 31 episode of Inside The NBA on TNT, co-host and two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith concurred about Georgetown’s pervasion in the Hip Hop community.
“The whole rap community, when the rap music was going on, everybody who had made a rap record had a Georgetown jacket on,” the New York native Smith said during the reflective conversation.