Alabama’s Nate Oats and Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse paid tribute to legendary college basketball coach John Thompson Jr. during their college basketball game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Saturday.
Alabama radio broadcaster Chris Stewart said that Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats wore the towel as Saturday’s game tipped off. In the first seconds of the game, Oats handed the towel to Stackhouse, and Stackhouse wore the towel for the rest of the first half.
Draping the towel over the right shoulder is an homage to an act Thompson did regularly while coaching Georgetown men’s basketball from 1972-99.
The towel included Thompson’s image. The towels with Thompson’s image were distributed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for coaches to wear during the week starting Feb. 15.
“John Thompson was an icon in our profession, and we wanted to make sure his legacy was celebrated in a prominent way this season,” NABC Executive Director Craig Robinson said in a press release. “Big John not only achieved the highest levels of coaching success during his career, but he also paved the way for more equitable opportunities for countless Black student-athletes and coaches – me included.”
Thompson led the Hoyas to the 1984 NCAA national championship along with Final Four trips in 1982 and 1985.
Alabama defeated Vanderbilt 82-78. Alabama, ranked No. 9 in the Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll, improved to 18-5 overall and 13-1 in the SEC. Vanderbilt went to 6-12 overall and 2-10 in the SEC.