The term legendary is thrown around a lot in sports, but very few live up to that lofty moniker. However, there are people, circumstances and phenomena that are indeed legendary and representative of all attributes the term implies. The 1984 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game pitting John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas versus Guy Lewis and the Houston Cougars is indeed legendary. It had all the makings of a barn burner. On one side was Reggie Williams, David Wingate and 7-foot manchild Patrick Ewing against Hakeem Olajuwon, Alvin Franklin, and Michael Young.
Future basketball Hall of Fame player Clyde Drexler had graduated the year before, but the team was still very formidable in earning a 2 seed. They weren’t exactly Phi Slamma Jamma anymore, but they weren’t far from it either. The Cougars advanced to the title game from the Midwest region with wins over Louisiana Tech, Memphis State and Wake Forest while the Hoyas emerged out of the West region after defeating SMU, UNLV and Dayton. Back in the day, the key to winning in basketball was having a superior low post game and every game seemed to always be about the match up at center. In the semifinal game Patrick Ewing held his own against future top NBA draft pick C David Bowie and the Kentucky Wildcats to advance to play Houston. The Cougars would defeat the Virginia Cavaliers in the other semifinal as Hakeem would battle Olden Polynice on the low block in helping lead Houston past the Cavs.
The Hoyas had a lot to prove after losing to Dean Smith’s University of North Carolina Tarheels squad that featured Sam Perkins, James Worthy and Michael Jordan two years prior on a last second, inexplicable turnover by guard Fred Brown. The Houston Cougars also had their own demons to exercise after losing to six-seeded North Carolina State in 1983. Well, the demons would continue to haunt Guy Lewis and company as they faced a defensive-minded Georgetown team that won thanks to the scoring of freshman Reggie Williams. Williams came off the bench to score 19 in the championship. Though Hakeem Olajuwon would win the battle with Patrick Ewing with 15 points,9 rebounds to Pat’s 10 points, 9 rebounds, the Georgetown Hoyas would win the war with a 84-75 victory. With the win John Thompson, Jr. would become the first African-American head coach to win the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.