There have been plenty of stories and blog posts about the aftermath of Georgetown’s on-court fight in China, but I don’t remember hearing about any U.S. government officials warning John Thompson III that he might get arrested.
(If I simply missed this, apologies.)
Anyhow, Thompson was discussing the incident with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Thursday morning, when he was asked what happened after the Hoyas left the court.
“Now, that’s the fun part of the story,” he said wryly.
“You just saw the footage on the court,” the coach continued. “We go back in our locker room, [the other team’s] going back, and it’s the tunnel, and now all the sudden two teams are running at each other in the tunnel. And so we break that up, and they’re screaming a lot of things at us about what’s going to happen to us once we go outside. And so no one showered — grab your stuff fellas, we’re getting out of here….
“So now we’re getting ready to leave the building. Our buses are 50 yards, 100 yards across the parking lot. Just as we’re getting ready to walk out the door, all the lights in the parking lot go out, it goes pitch black. Ok, here we go. Now fortunately nothing happened, we got back to the hotel. I didn’t feel safe until we got within a block of the hotel, and that was because Vice President Biden happened to be staying in the same hotel as we were. And that fact alone led to it being an international incident, mind you
“So that night was tense. And I’m in the conference room with our AD and a couple university officials and the sports information director, and we’re trying to figure out what type of statement to release. And representatives from the State Department and representatives from Vice President Biden’s staff come in and say you know I don’t know whether you know this, this wasn’t just a fight at the game, this is quickly turning into an international incident, so you better make sure we get this statement right.
“And then what scared me was a guy from the State Department said ‘Now you’re fine tonight because you’re here, the Vice President’s here, we have Secret Service everywhere. If they feel like they are losing face with whatever statement you release....it would not be out of the question, when you get to Shanghai, that you and some of your players get arrested, if you don’t get the statement right.’
“I got very diplomatic, as you saw, and the statements were just great.”
Still, JTIII said he never considered ending the trip early.