The death of John Thompson brings back memories of the 1989 Duke-Georgetown game in the 1989 East Regional Finals.
Georgetown is not what it was in the 1980s. John Thompson made it a powerful program and Patrick Ewing pushed the Hoyas to a completely different level.
Three years after he graduated, Alonzo Mourning showed up. That was in 1988. In one game prior to Georgetown, he blocked 27 shots.
He was the most celebrated recruit in the country. Dikembe Mutombo was not.
Mutombo actually came to Georgetown on a USAID scholarship. We don’t think he was a recruited player.
He was however 7-2 and he and Mourning were the greatest pair of shot blockers in college history.
Duke was a rising program but at that point was seen as plucky overachievers, not the hated Duke that it would later become.
The main reason Duke became hated of course was Christian Laettner who is a freshman here. Not many people understood he was about to explode on the college game like a supernova.
And not many people expected #7 seed Duke to beat the mighty Hoyas, who were seeded #2. As much as anything, this game marked Duke’s passing of John Thompson’s program and is a very key game in Duke’s rise to iconic status.
Also in this game was one of the most famous dunks in Duke history: Phil Henderson’s mighty slam over Alonzo Mourning.
The Georgetown mystique hung over Mourning in a way that’s impossible to explain today. Henderson’s doing that was electrifying, impertinent and audacious, all at once. No one did that to Mourning - until Henderson did.