Coach John Thompson, Jr., Honored at Nike Georgetown Debut

Sports legends were on hand to open the new Nike store in Georgetown Oct 25. The Vornado-owned building that formerly housed Barnes & Noble is now a three-story, 31,000-square-foot store that carries a wide range of Nike’s athletic gear at 3040 M St., NW.

Homages to Georgetown University athletics are present in numerous areas of the store. Displays include gear from Georgetown’s track & field team and a display case of Georgetown University Air Jordans.

In the entrance of the building is a commemorative display honoring former Georgetown University men’s basketball head coach John Thompson, Jr., who coached at the school from 1972 to 1999. A neon-sign quotation by Thompson reminds athletes not to ignore life beyond the court. “Don’t let the sum total of your existence be 8-10 pounds of air.”

Before the event began, coach Thompson and former Hoya Patrick Ewing were on hand for a few words. “It’s a great store,” Ewing said.

Tim Hershey, head of North American retail for Nike opened the ceremony. Hershey manages Nike’s 202 stores in North America. He explained how the store received 4,500 applications to work there, which were eventually whittled down to 500 interviews, and finally, to 171 employees working in the store today. One employee said he was in three weeks of training for his sales position.

Michael Jackson, who played point guard on Georgetown’s 1984 NCAA championship team, is now Vice President and General Manager of Basketball in North America at Nike. Jackson remarked on the new store and presented Thompson with a one-of-a-kind, commemorative jacket honoring his career in the basketball.

Thompson, who is on the board of directors at Nike, was characteristically to-the-point. “I’d rather eat a bug than what I’m doing right now,” he said.

Thompson spoke about Nike’s commitment to Georgetown University’s basketball program when the team needed support. “Nike was one of the few corporations who jumped in when we needed help,” he said.

On his quote in the store, Thompson explained how he convinced his former player, Jackson, to leave the NBA to pursue a career off the court. He emphasized that there is more to life than basketball. “If that’s what defines you totally, you’re a damn fool,” Thompson said.

Current Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson III also spoke about the new store.

After the ceremony, Thompson, Jr., was joined by his son, his two grandchildren, Michael Jackson, Tim Hershey and Jack the Bulldog for the ribbon cutting. Afterwards, eager shoppers poured in to see the new store for themselves. Along with sports gear in other sports, such as that of the Washington Redskins, the store will manage a running club.

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