We start this week with a piece of sad news from college basketball, the passing of former Georgetown head coach John Thompson, age 78.
A Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, Thompson was an All-American forward at Providence in the mid-1960s, a two-time NBA champion, and would later become a legend as the head coach at Georgetown, becoming the first Black head coach to win the NCAA championship when his Hoyas beat Houston in ’84. Thompson coached at Georgetown for 27 seasons, and made two other Final Four appearances in addition to that 1984 season, in a career that amassed almost 600 wins for the Hoyas.
Fellow Naismith Hall of Famer John Calipari had this to say about about “an icon”:
Coach John Thompson passed away last night. The Hall of Fame coach was a life changer for so many. He was a great coach who built some of the best college teams of all time. His players were a who’s who of college basketball. Truly an icon in his time.
Coach Thompson coached legends like Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson. His teams went to three Final Fours in the 1980s and he became the first Black college basketball coach to win a national championship.
When Coach Thompson walked into a gym, people cheered and coaches squirmed because they knew what type of challenge they were up against.
I’ll never forget when Coach Thompson protested an NCAA rule that he felt discriminated against Black players by refusing to coach a game until it was changed. He was ahead of his time by speaking truth to power when it was hard to do.
Coach Thompson was the best of the best. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Now for the other news of the day and from the weekend…
Jamal Murray went off last night.
Utah and Denver will play a Game 7 all thanks to Jamal Murray and the 50-piece he served the Jazz late last night. On the verge of elimination, Murray carried Denver with 50 points on 9-of-12 shooting from outside, his second time with nine 3-pointers in the last three games. In the process, Murray became the first player since Michael Jordan–you’ve heard of him–to have three straight 40-point games in a postseason series. Jordan had four, Murray goes for four and a spot in the next round when the Nuggets and Jazz settle the series Tuesday night.
Jager Burton is a Cat.
Kentucky football landed a HUGE in-state (in-town, also) commitment Sunday night when four-star offensive lineman Jager Burton picked Kentucky over Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oregon. 247Sports considers Burton to be the 125th best player in America regardless of position, while ranking him eighth among the offensive guards nationwide. 247 also ranks Burton seventh all-time among UK’s commits since it began ranking players over 20 years ago.
Burton told KSR, “It’s a big relief. I’ve known for a little bit now that’s where I want to go, that’s where I want to be. To finally fulfill that hometown hero role, is a big step for me and really important.”
Now ring the Jager Burton Link Dump alarm…
Kentucky made the Top 9 (we did it!) for UK basketball recruit Bryce Hopkins.
On Sunday afternoon the former UofL commit (lol) trimmed his fat to nine schools: Michigan, Oregon, Cal, Iowa State, Illinois, Texas, Providence, Indiana and your University of Kentucky Wildcats. While writing that sentence, it hit me that Coach Cal has hired assistants away from two of those programs in the last couple weeks. Anyway, here’s the video Hopkins dropped to announce the news:
TOP 9?? pic.twitter.com/Vzwhourtok
— Bryce Hopkins (@BryceHopkins) August 30, 2020
John Calipari defended Keion Brooks’ comments.
And in news that should surprise no one, John Calipari defended one of his players–in this case, Keion Brooks. Brooks spoke publicly about his thoughts on a potential name change to Rupp Arena, and though he admitted to needing more education on the issue, Brooks said he supports a change. Many in Big Blue Nation did not take too kindly to Brooks’ stance, and sadly some took things too far because there’s always a few in every crowd.
Calipari caught wind of the divide and tweeted, “#BBN, I know some of you are upset with Keion Brooks’ comments regarding Rupp Arena. Let me tell you he’s a very smart person and a very conscientious young man. However you feel about what he said, my hope is you show him the respect that all of our/your players deserve.
“My job is to make sure all of our players are educated on all that goes along with Coach Rupp’s name and we are going to walk through that. My plan is to get former players on a Zoom with our current guys so they can ask those players directly about Coach Rupp.
“My focus has been on everything going forward, which is why we hadn’t addressed it. As I’ve said before, give these players the benefit of the doubt. If you’re unhappy w/anything, be unhappy with me, not a 19-year-old who is walking through these difficult times. I love you all.”
Happy Birthday, Woo!!!!!
Lukasz “Woo” Obrzut, one of our favorite people on the entire planet, celebrates his birthday today. Join in the celebration by watching this hilarious video of him at Scarefest and then send him a message on Twitter at @lukasz_obrzut.
That’ll do it for now.
Let’s have a good week and be kind to each other. We can’t keep letting 2020 win. Go Cats.