Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who said today he has no plans to talk with the Chicago Bulls about being their head coach, indicated he likely will return to Georgetown even though he worked himself to exhaustion last basketball season and was treated at a hospital.
Thompson revealed for the first time today that he was carried off an airplane, put into an ambulance and taken from National Airport to the hospital after the Hoyas beat Temple March 16 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"I didn't pass out but I came very close to it," Thompson said. "Nobody (outside of the team) knew it; we kept it quiet.
"I perspire a lot, and it was extremely hot. Then, all of a sudden we got in the air and it was very cold. I think I dehydrated.
"The ambulance? It was fun; first time I had ever ridden in an ambulance. I reflected on (retirement) a little. That will make you reflect. You're riding down the street and that siren is going off, and I thought, 'So this is how it is. I don't want this experience too many more times.'
"But after I walked out of the hospital that same day, by myself, the staff started fussing at me because the first thing I wanted to know was the score of another NCAA tournament game.
"I just got exhausted and dehydrated. They tested everything and said I was fine. It was also a case of getting tense and worked up. I had been staying up late at night working and just got very sick."
Thompson, who is president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, was in Chicago for that group's convention. His presence here served to fuel reports that the Bulls were interested in replacing Coach Kevin Loughery with Thompson, who has taken Georgetown to one national championship and two other title-game appearances in the last four years.
Earlier in the week, Thompson told The Washington Post he would be interested in talking to NBA teams, but only if he could have total authority on staff and player selections. He said he has talked with Jerry Krause, the Bulls' general manager, but primarily about college seniors about to be drafted, including Georgetown's Bill Martin.
"I did talk with Jerry, about Billy Martin more than we talked about anything else," Thompson said. "I don't like to get into any discussion about anybody's job while he's still in it."
When asked if he planned to talk with Bulls' officials before leaving Chicago, Thompson said, "Not at all. And I have not talked to Jerry since I've been here, and I was here last week."
Thompson said again he had been contacted by three NBA teams, including Seattle, which Thompson turned down earlier this week. He did not name the other two teams.
While Thompson said he plans on remaining at Georgetown, where he has been head coach for 13 years, he is not ruling out the possibility of leaving.
"I would never say never," Thompson said. "I have no need or great desire to leave. But nobody's life is stamped in concrete. You explore opportunities just like everybody else does. I owe that to myself. I think I have a good group of kids coming back. I think we can have a pretty good team . . . "
Thompson also was asked if it was time to move on, having accomplished about everything possible at the collegiate level. "I don't think it's necessarily time to leave Georgetown," he said. "But in any profession, any person should always listen to inquiries. I feel that Georgetown is an excellent job and I'm working with people that I enjoy working with.
"But I have an obligation to myself to know what is available. I'm not looking for a job, nor have I solicited any of these inquiries. But it would be less than sensible if I didn't pay attention to what people are saying, at least to make an evaluation; so that if the time does come for me to leave, if nothing else, I am better educated and more aware of what is available."
There has also been some speculation that the New York Knicks, who will draft Georgetown's Patrick Ewing June 18, have expressed an interest in having Thompson as coach.
Thompson addressed that, too. "It's normal for people who know Patrick's relationship with me to say that the Knicks would be interested in me coaching Patrick," he said. "The Knicks have not approached me about anything. Hubie (Brown) is a good coach and I'm certain he'll do an outstanding job. I envy anybody who can coach Patrick because I can tell you he's a coach's dream."
Thompson said he thought reports about his leaving Georgetown were being exaggerated. "I'd get a job offer probably every other day if I wanted to. But I'm not shopping," he said, adding with a smile, "I love the publicity, though."
Thompson also was able to laugh about what could have become a serious health problem. Throughout the past college season, Thompson played down the notion that he was under a lot of pressure because the Hoyas had a chance to become the first team since 1972-73 to win consecutive titles.
But Thompson admitted today that he realized during the tournament just how much he did want his team to win again.
"I knew it was Patrick's last year and he had decided to stay in school. It was an enormous amount of pressure," Thompson said. "Enormous. You were always worrying about whether he would get injured. That was the greatest pressure of all.
"I wanted him, very badly, to be rewarded. And I also wanted just as badly to have a success story about a good kid, which is not to imply anything about any other kids. I just know this was a kid who did it the way he was suppposed to do it.
"I feel fine now. But I just worked myself to a point where my body said, 'Hey!' I was very touched by the kids' reaction to it. That was one of the most gratifying things, watching them and their concern for me.
"By the end of the year I was totally exhausted. I wanted to touch every base to get it done. But I do that to myself, and probably enjoy it in many ways.
"People like myself thrive on pressure. I get a gratification out of it. I think I just have to start becoming more realistic about how I push myself. You can become captured by work habits sometimes, and to some extent I let that happen to myself.
"I still enjoy my work, I just don't want to get sick from it. People tell me the NBA would be tougher, but I don't think so."
When Thompson was asked how he was winding down from the season past, he said, sensing the irony, "By working."
Thompson also said he and Ewing sat down some time ago and talked about Ewing's son Patrick Jr.
"Little Patrick," Thompson said. "Big hands, looks like he crawls pretty fast to me. When Patrick found out about it, we sat down and had a personal discussion about it. I gave him a letter of intent and told him to get the baby's footprint.
"I said, 'He's too small to sign, but if he's anything like his daddy I want him committed (to Georgetown) now. I'll have my eye on him.'
"He loves the kid very much and talks about him all the time. His family and the mother's family were involved. But I don't think he has a responsibility to share it if he doesn't want to."