It was easy to find longtime admirers of Gary Williams out singing his praises in recent days, but I was curious how some of his longtime foils might react. Like John Thompson II.
I mean, maybe the former Georgetown coach and former Maryland coach aren’t best friends in the world, from what we’ve been told. And Thompson, being a local media member, sort of had to address the issue on his ESPN 980 radio show.
He got into the topic in a strange way, talking about how universities like Georgetown and Maryland deserve credit for sticking with the same coach for such a long time in both cases. And amidst this discussion, here and there, he talked about Williams’s legacy.
“Certainly Gary needs to be commended, and I’ve always been an admirer of Gary,” Thompson said. “In fact, I went on record when he was at American University of saying that he was a fine young coach, even at that time, before he even went to Ohio State. And it goes without saying, what he did over at the University of Maryland is highly commendable....
“Gary did a tremendous job at the University of Maryland. That goes without saying. And I enjoyed not liking him, as i did with Lefty, who I also think should be in the Hall of Fame. But my dislike was competitive dislike, and a lot of laypeople can’t understand that.
“Now, I don’t have to be competitive, so I can be open — he’s retired — and say hey, the man did a great job. The man had a tremendous impact on the area, and I congratulate him. But when he said I want to look at some other things in life, that profession is a very narrow profession, and if you are in it for 20-some years, there are a hell of a lot of things [you miss]....
“Gary, the only thing that I would say to you buddy, stop saying you retired and say you resigned, because you’re still a very talented individual and you still are capable of doing a lot of things, and you’ll see a lot of them once you stop coaching.”
Later in the show, a caller suggested Thompson call Tubby Smith and encourage him to take the Maryland job.
“I’m not making no calls for nothing over there at Maryland,” Thompson said. “I like Gary now because he’s gone. That’s my man. I’m gonna say what [Greivis] Vasquez is saying, people want to say all them nice things Gary does, but nobody says nothing nice about you when you’re coaching. Let me tell you something, if my son had the [Maryland] job I’d hate him. Let me tell you something, that’s competitive hate, competitive hate. Because you’ve heard me praise and know how much I respect gary and the job that he’s done.”