Just a handful of years after the tumultuous, racially charged era of the 1960s, Georgetown coach John Thompson peered over his shoulder during a game at McDonough Gym in Northwest. What the coach saw he’d never forget. Neither would many others. “Thompson the [N-word] flop must go,” the racist banner read.
“Today, this generation doesn’t even know who John Thompson is,” said Brian Ellerbe, a Capitol Heights, Maryland, native and former NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach who worked at several schools including George Washington University in Northwest.
Like many, Ellerbe, 50, laments the glaring absence of African-American coaches in Division I basketball. Ellerbe stopped short of accusing anyone of racism and admits that a black coach today probably wouldn’t have to endure the bigotry faced by the legendary Thompson in the 1970s.