The legacy of NCAA basketball coach John Thompson

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Unfortunately, Johnson passed away today at the age of 78.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Thompson a "devoted mentor" who inspired many "by using his powerful voice to fight for social justice and speak out against racial inequality". He coached several former National Basketball Association superstars including Ewing, Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. He later spoke about being singled out as the first African American head coach to win the National Championship.

"For us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend", Thompson's family also said on Monday.

In 1989, Thompson famously walked off the court to protest the NCAA's decision to ban academically ineligible freshmen for receiving scholarships, which he believed unfairly targeted minority players. Thompson targeted young Black men for college, many of them disadvantaged.

During his Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement speech in 2016, Iverson made it a point to thank Thompson for the role he played in his life, saying that he gave him a chance, despite the trouble he found himself in as a teen.

ALLEN IVERSON: No other schools were recruiting me anymore. I wanted to go to Notre Dame and play football and basketball.

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PATRICK EWING: We still keep it in the office.

One of the things he has always been celebrated for was his impact on the Black men he coached. You know what I mean?

Thompson's players looked up to him because of the principles he stood for.

At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades. His closed practices and limited media access were part of a phenomenon that became known as Hoya paranoia.

In a week that also featured the deaths of former NBA star Clifford Robinson and former Arizona head coach Lute Olson, the basketball world is truly in a place of mourning.

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