‘Ask not what Georgetown can do for you; ask what you can do for Georgetown.’/p>

This paraphrase of John F. Kennedy’s immortal call to public service was the theme of the night Saturday as Georgetown’s men’s basketball program celebrated its 100th anniversary in a star-studded gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel highlighted by emotional speeches from former center Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) and Basketball Hall-of-Fame former head coach John Thompson Jr.

Some of the biggest names in Georgetown basketball history were on hand to pay tribute to the century-long Hilltop tradition. In between stirring speeches and video montages of some of Hoya basketball’s proudest moments, alumni and former players had the chance to catch up with old friends and chat with current stars like Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert.

Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came about halfway through the gala when University President John J. DeGioia announced that Ewing would be inducted into the Georgetown Athletics Hall of Fame. Ewing, prefacing his remarks by saying he was a man of few words, gave a heartfelt speech about what Georgetown means to him. The Kingston, Jamaica native thanked Thompson, his former teammates and his mother and father, attributing his success to their decision to come to the United States.

Towering over the microphone in front of him, the 7-foot center noted that he would be inducted into Georgetown’s Hall of Fame the same year that he becomes eligible for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and said he would call upon his son, junior forward Patrick Ewing Jr., to help him with his induction speech.

Though Ewing might normally be a tough act to follow, the man slated to go next on stage actually boasted a bigger presence: John Thompson Jr. Thompson spent much of his time calling on the audience to give back to Georgetown. Seeming at times to speak directly to his former players, Thompson called forcefully for new on-campus basketball facilities.

His voice cracking with emotion at times, Thompson recalled how Georgetown’s ‘prehistoric’practice facilities in McDonough Gymnasium, saying that even when he was the head coach the gym was antiquated. He even said that he would urge his son, Head Coach John Thompson III, not to stay at his post if he were forced to continue using McDonough for practice and Verizon Center for games.

On a lighter note, ‘Big John’brought the house down more than once as he recalled amusing anecdotes from his coaching days and referred to DeGioia as a ‘little white guy.’He also softened the mood by calling Ewing ‘the love of my life’and giving his son a kiss on the cheek when the two met on stage. He concluded by telling his former players that, however hard he pushed them or however many four-letter words he used in coaching, he loved and cared for them all.

The gala was the final act of a day devoted to Georgetown basketball. Dozens of former players were among the nearly 18,000 fans at Verizon Center when Georgetown took down favored Marquette 76-58.

At halftime, the Hoyas’ all-century team was announced by Chris Paul, a radio DJ responsible for player introductions at Georgetown basketball games, and called onto the court. With two dozen other former members cheering from the baseline, the top 25 players in Georgetown history ” selected by voters online since September ” were introduced and stood together for roaring applause.

Divided into three eras ” the Vintage Era (1907-43), the Classic Era (1943-72), and the Modern Era (1972-present) ” each time period boasted its own stars, from the oldest living member, Dan Kraus (C ’47), to Ewing, the leading vote-getter overall.

Five current NBA players also made the all-century team ” Dikembe Mutombo (FLL ’91), Alonzo Mourning (CAS ’92), Othella Harrington (CAS ’96), Allen Iverson and Mike Sweetney ” as well as many others who have gone on to prominence outside the basketball arena, such as former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (CAS ’61), who made the honorable mention all-century team.

Tagliabue was also honored at the gala and drew laughs from the crowd during his speech when he recalled how many people ask him if he played under John Thompson Jr. at Georgetown.

Tagliabue noted that while he graduated a full decade before Thompson’s arrival on the Hilltop, he did get the chance to play against him. The two scrimmaged against one another when Thompson was still a schoolboy star at Archbishop John Carroll High.

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