Hoya File Photo/The Hoya Allen Iverson was one of two former Hoyas’ taking part in the NBA All-Star festivities last weekend.

Georgetown prides itself on the strong bonds it breeds between its alumni and their alma mater. In fields ranging from government service to professional sports, Georgetown alumni look back to their Hilltop roots, often led back to the banks of the Potomac by a strong sense of community spirit.

This weekend, several members of that family returned to Washington, D.C., to attend the 2001 NBA All-Star Weekend, including former Hoyas Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Jahidi White and Allen Iverson. The weekend celebration began Thursday and culminated Sunday with the 50th anniversary of the NBA All-Star Game.

The Georgetown basketball family remainslose knit, with many of its former players celebrating their days on the Hilltop during time at “home” this weekend.

For some former players, visits to Georgetown are an opportunity to rekindle relationships with those who stayed behind when they went off towards basketball success. Mutombo said he would visit friends, teachers and coaches during his weekend in the district.

“I love going there,” Mutombo said. “I have so many friends there, every time I come here it feels like home to me.”

Even Iverson, who left Georgetown for the pros after his sophomore season, still feels that he’s a part of the Georgetown family.

“I’m always going to be a Hoya. Forever,” Iverson said on Friday at All-Star media availability. Within the Georgetown family, Iverson has always been something of a black sheep. Developing a rather dubious reputation with several arrests for possession of narcotics, Iverson also a rap album titled Non-Fiction, containing offensive lyrics aimed at homosexuals, women and African-Americans. Across the United States, many parents complained Iverson’s conduct was unbecoming of a role model.

John Thompson, Iverson’s former coach at Georgetown, feels his former player has been unfairly cast into a negative mold.

“I think a lot of people misinterpret a lot of things about Allen and they forget that he’s still very young and growing, just the way [Mourning and Mutombo] have done,” Thompson said.

Conversely, Mourning’s image as an upstanding social servant has been enhanced over the course of the year. Sidelined with focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease that can lead to kidney failure, Mourning has increased his involvement in community activities. Last weekend he appeared on a panel in Gaston Hall for HBO’s “Excellence Without Excuses” open-forum discussion.

There, Mourning commented on the more pressing concerns of life outside of basketball, and how he has developed into the person and player he is today.

“When I came out of high school, I was the best high school player in the country and it was all about basketball,” Mourning said. “I knew I could do pretty well in school if I wanted to, but I focused on basketball . I neglected myself.”

According to Mourning, Thompson urged him to develop all aspects of his life, not simply his athletic attributes.

“He once asked me, `What if you had the cure for cancer? You wouldn’t even know it because you don’t even try to find out,'” Mourning told the Gaston Hall audience. “The following year, I did extremely well and raised my GPA to a 3.4. I saw what I was capable of when I put my mind to it.”

Thompson is quite proud of his former center’s increased involvement in community activities since his kidney ailment sidelined him for the 2001 season.

“I think [the fact that Mourning came to “Excellence Without Excuses”] shows his concern,” Thompson said. “Alonzo has always been extremely sensitive to other people, but I think now he is revealing that to people more than he has in the past, and I think that’s the thing surprising a lot of people because amidst his problems that he is having with his health, he’s expressing a lot of concern for other people. I think that’s the thing that’s very important for him right now.”

That concern was returned to Mourning by his extended Georgetown family when he received a “get well” card from students in an effort orchestrated by Hoya Blue this year.

“It was touching,” Mourning said of the card. “I didn’t know I left that kind of an impression.”

Mourning received the largest ovation for any All-Star during the introductions, and the second largest of the night – second only to a half time tribute to Michael Jordan.

Standing proudly on the outskirts of the conference room at edia Day and amiably chatting with several members of the press as well as his former players, John Thompson stood like a patriarch presiding over a family reunion. Thompson was pleased to see his former players return to the district with the distinction of being among the NBA’s elite.

The former Hoyas shone brightly in Sunday’s game. Iverson earned the game’s MVP honors, the first ever for a former Georgetown player. On the other side of the court, Mutombo grabbed 22 rebounds in the astounding comeback over the West.

“Both of them have pride and play hard and I’m happy for them,” Thompson said.

This skilled core of players continues to help to develop Georgetown’s current basketball program. Jahidi White, a member of the Washington Wizards and district resident, was on hand to host the Fleer Jam Session festivities at the Washington Convention Center. White still follows Georgetown’s team closely.

“Craig Esherick is a great coach,” White said. “And the big men are doing a great job, Ruben [Boumtje-Boumtje], Mike Sweetney, Wesley [Wilson] . Kevin Braswell and Anthony Perry are doing a great job . I’m very happy for them.”

Thompson echoed White’s sentiments. “I’m extremely proud of [this year’s Hoyas], and I think that Craig is doing an excellent job. He’s been working extremely hard at what he’s been doing . I think they’re going to have a great chance to make a run at things, and if they don’t this year, they certainly will next year.”

The trademark of the Georgetown family is the continued contributions to the program from players after they graduate. Even to established players like Mutombo and White, the Georgetown tradition is a recognizable and taken seriously.

“[Georgetown tradition] means a lot. I feel like I have to live up to it because it’s a great tradition,” White said. “The people before me set the ground for it and you have to keep the Georgetown legend living on, and it doesn’t stop with me.”

Georgetown’s basketball stars reflect on their alma mater as a fundamental part of who they are, just as Georgetown’s numerous alumni now employed in business, law and politics do.

“[The Georgetown family] is part of my life and it’s part of the institution I grew up with,” Mutombo said. “It’s the institution that made me earn a lot of respect everywhere I go. When someone looks at me, they always look at my school, and I’m glad it’s Georgetown.”

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