April 2 -- Hoya Paranoia

The date was April 2, 1984…
The location was Seattle Washington’s King Dome.

Participants were the feared-for-starting-5-black-guys (something still unheard of at the time) Georgetown Hoyas and the Phi Slamma Jamma-featured University of Houston Cougars.
So yes, featuring several future Hall-of-Fame players with brown skin, this game was big because of Big John Thompson’s being a black coach to lead a black starting lineup from a private school that at the time might not have otherwise recruited them up against a bigger public school in the NCAA tournament.

As we look back on this compared to the outcome of this or recent years’ tournaments, it is clearly representative of a time that the parity that they PRETEND the tournament has today was actually present.
While the longshorts era has ushered in a time where the whitest of whitebread schools doesn’t feel so out of place starting 5 black dudes, in the Reagan era, it was quite the taboo for there to be 5 dudes on the whole of the campus if not selling someone crack…
[Phlip note – at least that was what I was made to believe in D.A.R.E. when I was in elementary school]

In the game, Georgetown upended Houston 84-75, and Junior Center Patrick Ewing would win Final Four Most Oustanding Player to mark his second most major accomplishment of his basketball life – only to his involvement in the Dream Team.

Either way, this is about John Thompson having the courage to take a chance – as he would continue to for the balance of his career – with the players that other coaches might have steered clear of and the success born of the act…


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