Georgetown Beats Duke: Just An Old Family Tradition

Tony Kornheiser sat with Hall of Fame coach John Thompson yesterday as he watched his son, John III, coach the Georgetown Hoyas to a surprising 87-84 upset of the Duke Blue Devils.

You want to know how many father-and-son basketball coaching combinations have beaten the No. 1 team in the country? One. Big John, in 1985 over St. John’s, and John III, yesterday over Duke. That’s it; that’s the list.

Someone who has known Big John for more than 30 years commented that he looked even happier after this win by his son than after his own national championship win. Of course when this was later mentioned to Pops himself, he leaned over from his great height and chuckled, “Let’s not get carried away, huh?”

Heh. It’s just a regular season game, after all. Still, pretty special.

AP leads their coverage with the family angle, too:

John Thompson III got an embrace from his Hall of Fame father as the fans stormed the court, madly celebrating the first Georgetown victory over a No. 1 team in 21 years.

“That’s my child,” the elder Thompson said. “I love my child. After all he’s had to go through, he deserves this.”

I am, at best, a casual fan of college basketball but a big fan of (Big) John Thompson. While I admire Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski a great deal, both for his excellence at his chosen profession and as a man, I know him only by reputation and a few broadcast interviews. I have gotten to “know” Thompson quite well over the last couple of years, though, from his local radio talk show. I don’t listen to him much these days, as my work shedule has shifted and his show is on from 3-5 but I catch it when I can. Thompson is a genial, fascinating fellow who candidly shares insights developed over an impressive career.

One suspects that, if John III follows his footsteps and wins a national championship, that will indeed surpass his joy at winning his own.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    There was a story on the johns on HBO’s real sports with bryant gumbel the other day. very touching.