Georgetown coach John Thompson made the "extremely painful" decision Friday to reject an offer worth at least $6 million to become general manager of the NBA Denver Nuggets.
Thompson agonized over the offer from the troubled franchise, the first black-owned team in professional sports, for five days. Clearly weary as he appeared at a campus news conference, he said, "I talked with an awful lot of people who mean an awful lot to me. Then I gave myself a day of reflection. And I have decided to remain at Georgetown."Thompson, who took Georgetown to the NCAA title in 1984, has been among the nation's coaching giants for nearly two decades and has been the target of several NBA offers. He called the Denver opportunity "the most serious by far."
"The timing was just not the best," Thompson said. "I looked at the total package and said, `The time is not right."' He did not elaborate.
Earlier in the week, Thompson appeared to be leaning the Nuggets' way, pronouncing himself "excited as hell" over the offer, particularly since it involved a 4 percent interest in the team as well as a salary near $700,000 a year for five years. Thompson makes more than $500,000 annually at Georgetown, including a salary of more than $317,000, a shoe contract worth $200,000, and other outside payments.
In deciding to stay, Thompson embraced the example of his friend and coaching colleague, Mike Krzyzewski, who recently spurned a similarly lucrative offer from the Boston Celtics to remain at Duke. On the other hand, he made the opposite choice of one of his best friends and confidants - former Big East Commissioner David Gavitt, who just became general manager and vice president of the Celtics.
After taking over a team which was a woeful 4-23 in 1971, Thompson has amassed a 423-122 mark at Georgetown. He has taken the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament 14 times, also finishing second in 1982 and 1985.
"Obviously, we were interested in John Thompson because he is a quality individual and he would have greatly improved our organization," Nuggets managing general partner Peter Bynoe said. "We respect his decision to stay at Georgetown and sincerely wish him the best."
The Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, Georgetown's president, said Thompson's decision "was great news for me to hear."