As Georgetown's game in Beijing on Thursday began to get heated, one particularly galling moment stood out before the Hoyas and Bayi Rockets began brawling. According to the Los Angeles Times, one Chinese player yelled at coach John Thompson III in English, "How can you let your players play like that?" It was the height of disrespect.
But in the days following the international incident, the public did not hear a single disparaging word about the Chinese team from Thompson. He didn't just want to move on. He set an example for his young team.
"From that confrontation or from that conflict, you can learn," Thompson told reporters. "You can take away. You can grow. You can gain knowledge from that. The word of the day everyone wants to talk about -- diplomacy -- and I think that's just a fancy way in many ways of the lesson our guys learned that we're all the same.
"You realize that there aren't that many difference between us. We hope that this happens -- that out of that conflict a bond is formed, out of that conflict a oneness and a unity can be established between Georgetown University and that organization."
The day following the brawl, Thompson took teammates Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson with him to exchange pleasantries with the Rockets delegation. It had been Clark who had taken exception to a hard foul that touched off the fight, and the senior ended up in an infamous photograph of him on the floor being kicked.
Since then, the Hoyas have traveled to Shanghai and enjoyed all that China has to offer. They've gone sightseeing, tried the different foods, participated in clinics, won a game without incident, and represented the school with class.
"We wanted to come here to get some sense of who we are as a team," Thompson said. "I wanted to put ourselves in difficult, adverse, tough situations and see how they respond, see if they rally around each other, see if they support each other. And that clearly has happened."
Even when there was a snafu in Shanghai, Thompson was able to show his team how simply showing deference could turn frowns into smiles, according to the Washington Post.
The Hoyas had arrived at the venue to work out on their own for the first time in China, but as soon as they stepped into the gym, those plans changed because a youth team happened to be practicing there, too.
Thompson turned the unexpected meeting into an impromptu basketball camp, instructing the Chinese boys and teens on dribbling and layups and inviting them to join in drills with Georgetown players. The appreciative Chinese in this basketball-crazed country then watched the Hoyas practice for approximately 90 minutes.
Georgetown players presented the youths with elastic wristbands with the school name in English and Chinese and posed for pictures before departing.