AN ABRIDGED ORAL HISTORY OF GEORGETOWN BASKETBALL
Georgetown has a long and distinguished history. From humbling beginnings, Georgetown has risen – through tireless effort – to its current place of mediocrity among the nation’s finest mid-major programs. Simply acknowledging the Hoya experience isn’t enough; understanding the Hoya experience is the key. What better way to pursue that than to let those that wore the blue and gray – and probably oversaw a kitten-slaughtering laboratory while associated with the university – to tell the story of Hoyas basketball?
Under the promise of anonymity, here are – in their own words – the memories of a handful of individuals involved with Georgetown hoops from the mid-20th century to today.
A.H., Georgetown Class of ‘68
“Chesterton Mayfields. He’s the guy. He was a student studying English Literature at Georgetown with me, a hell of a yachter and the son of a paper clip titan. We were sitting around in our smoking jackets one evening, arguing the merits of social welfare – a short conversation indeed! – and he accidentally invented the idea of an East Coast-urban athletics league, including schools like Georgetown, Vassar, and Sarah Lawrence. The league would sponsor the best athletic competitions of the day -- "Violating the Dignity of Live-In Servants" and "Trust Fund Administration." You know, the stuff that people really care about. The idea is archived in the Georgetown library -- dated and authenticated, mind you -- and was referenced in 1982 by Dave Gavitt as the genesis for what eventually became the Big East. You can look it up.”
C.T., Former Athletics Administrator
“When John Thompson was named Georgetown's head basketball coach, it caused all then-formed conferences to send very nice fruit baskets to his office, placed delicately around his desk. Well, it wasn't exactly a desk; it was more like an altar with a throne, but you get the idea. Apparently these gifts were basically forms of begging from these leagues to convince Georgetown to elect to play in their basketball conferences. Georgetown has always been in high demand, you know. So there’s Thompson, freshly installed as the head coach, and he needs to pick where our Hoyas are going to play. Of course, in the end, Thompson declined all offers, intoning, "There can be only one Highlander!" Secretly, though, Thompson and the rest of the staff tried to get Georgetown basketball into the most-elite conference on Earth: The United Nations. We weren’t accepted, though. The rejection letter said something, like, ‘We regret to inform you that Hoya Nation is not an actual nation. Please do not contact us ever again.’ Another slight against what would have been a fine addition to their club. Nobody at Georgetown forgets that. That’s why, to this day, Georgetown does not recognize any sovereign nation admitted to the U.N. after 1976.”
J.E., Former Georgetown Basketball Player
“So there we were, Manley Field House. They had won something like 57 straight games in that building, the longest streak in the country. Thompson sits us down before the game and tells us, ‘Gentlemen, you can win this game. I am sure of it. And if you don’t, I’m taking Syracuse on the money line anyway.’ It was the most inspirational thing I’ve ever heard, partly because Thompson gave us that pep talk – similar to the one we got every pregame – without doing that eye roll thing that means that he has better things to do like yell at pigeons while sitting on a park bench. Anyway, we end up winning by two and it’s, like, ‘Finally, we have something to hold over those smug jerks from the fencing team that always pantsed us on the quad.’ Then, Thompson walks over to a microphone and declares that 'Manley Field is officially closed.' That was nuts. What was even crazier was that after that he was named City of Syracuse Building Inspector, summarily fired the next day for professional incompetence as Manley remained open for business despite his claim, and he subsequently filed a wrongful termination suit against the city. It was an impressive and confusing few days, for sure.”
J.T., Former Georgetown Head Coach
"I had to let Syracuse win the first Big East regular season title pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement between myself and the City of Syracuse for my frivolous wrongful termination suit. Do I regret it? Did the shoe I just threw at your head look like I regret it?"
R.W., Former Georgetown Athletics Administrator
"I absolutely remember when Ewing committed to Georgetown. It’s actually a neat story. He sent his letter of intent to us on papyrus that he pressed himself. The letter was written in perfect calligraphy – it was stunning – and the words he wrote on the scroll were eventually nominated for the National Book Award for Poetry. It made all of us that read it weep with uncontrolled emotion. Also, it definitely did not smell of or was drenched in sweat. Nope."
N.H., Georgetown Class of ‘85
"Oh, yeah. I remember the 1982 season. We won the Big East tournament title that year. It was great; those are the kinds of things that you remember from your time as a student. It never leaves you. It’s a shame that the NCAA didn't hold a national tournament that year that featured Fred Brown throwing the basketball to a wide open James Worthy seemingly because Brown hated basketball. A real shame. There should always be a national tournament; that’s something that you really never forget.”
S.F., Former Georgetown Basketball Player
"Winning the school’s first national championship was a pretty big deal. It was the first time in the history of the NCAA that a team won the title, had two members of the team name Poet Laureates of two different countries, a head coach invited to join -- but eventually declined the invitation -- the Fantastic Four, a third player inventing a personal space travel transportation vehicle (patent is still pending due to clear anti-Hoya bias from the United States government), and two other players receiving an audience with the Lord after momentarily being ascended to Heaven to be congratulated for their effort. Hoya . . . Something!"
P.E., Georgetown Class of ‘92
"1986-1995? I don't know what you're talking about. Never happened."
B.W., Georgetown Basketball Administrative Staff
“Iverson was the best. The cross-over dribble, the way he'd get right in a guy's face and defend him, the way he’d recite Emily Dickinson -- without error! -- in the locker room before games to get us all fired up. He was the best."
C.E., Former Georgetown Assistant and Head Basketball Coach
"The day that John Thompson retired was the saddest day of my life. All those years, all those wins, all those Big East games you'll never forget. And all of a sudden I was now the head coach. To tell you the truth, I hadn't been paying attention for 20 years; I couldn't name six people on the bench. Basically, I'd been spending my days ‘picking up dry cleaning’ or explaining that I had ‘a nasty cough; not coming in because I don't want to get anyone else sick’ for the better part of two decades, collecting a sweet paycheck while spending my days admiring my mustache and watching my copy of Flashdance over and over again. Do I regret any of this? Does this mustache look like I regret it?"
P.T., Current Georgetown Board of Directors Member
"The best thing we ever did was bring John Thompson III into the fold. At first the administration was against it, but then Big John stood up and said, 'Hire my son.' And then some guy said, 'No, that's nepotism.’ And Big John replied, ‘I know, when has that been a problem a Georgetown?' And the guy said, 'Oh, yeah. He's hired. He'll be the perfect patsy if the Securities and Exchange Commission ever takes us down.' And Big John said, 'No, he'll be the basketball coach' and did those finger quotes thing when he said 'basketball coach.' And then I winked at Big John because my nickname for him has always been ‘Geppetto’ and I totally got what he was saying. And the guy said, 'Yeah, whatever. Where's the cocaine?' And then we went to the Final Four in 2007, Big John’s fourth Final Four and his first as the shadowy figure behind a puppet head coaching regime focused on eating dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets every night for dinner."
For more vitally important Georgetown-directed vitriol, check out Hoya Suxa on Twitter: @HoyaSuxa. He'll be contributing literary masterpieces here at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician all day.