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Guest post: Kentucky basketball lucky to have an ambassador like Joe B. Hall

By TINA COX

I can remember watching Coach Joe B. Hall on the sidelines with the program rolled up in his hands. I can remember the day he announced his retirement. I always knew him as the Coach who followed the legend. He always seemed distant. The only smile I could recall was the celebration of the 1978 championship. This all changed on a Spring day in 2009.

I decided to go outside and enjoy the sunshine one afternoon during work. A gentleman was standing with his back to me, wearing a ball cap. I was occupied with my phone as the stranger started a conversation. I glanced up and recognized with whom I was conversing with. We talked about the weather and his vehicle. I knew I might never have this opportunity, thus I turned the conversation to basketball. I gave my opinion on Tubby Smith. I explained how I thought he was a good man but “Tubby ball” bored me. He just chuckled. We even discussed some UK football. I shook his hand, told him I wished I had his basketball tickets and went back to work.  I had no idea over the next few years I would come to cherish the moments with this gentle soul.

From that day forward, I looked forward to Coach Hall’s monthly visits. We would sit and talk about what each upcoming season was going to bring. I saw the pain in his eyes as we talked about the passing of his wife and his dear friend, Bill Keightley. He never said a negative word about Billy Gillispie but I could tell he felt totally disconnected from the one constant in his life, UK basketball  A few days after the hiring of Coach Cal he practically skipped into my office. He called John Wall a “Super Freak”  and told me UK had found the perfect coach.  Coach Cal had welcomed him with open arms back into the UK family. His laughed as he told the story of taking Coach Cal to a race at Kentucky Speedway. I watched him sign basketballs for hours, always willing to pose for pictures and give autographs. He knows basketball and he loves UK.

Since coming back to work in a Danville I don’t have the opportunity for our talks. I call him on his birthday and try to catch up with him a few times throughout the year. In fact I called him the other night to just say hello. We didn’t talk basketball ( well maybe just a little ) but after hanging up I had a huge smile on my face.  I’m blessed to have such a friend.

The next time you listen to the Joe B and Denny show or see Coach Joe B doing the “Y” at a ball game feel fortunate  we have such an ambassador for the BBN. A man who followed a legend and became one himself.

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6 comments

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  1. AndyP

    Great Post, Tina Cox. You did Joe B proud.

  2. King Ghidora

    Joe B. is top notch IMO. He did great things for the UK program and was maybe the most knowledgeable coach I’ve ever seen. He was a bit of a perfectionist though expecting his players to know the game as well as he did and be ready for every situation. Only once did he really achieve that with a team and it took 4 years to get them to that pinacle. It was of course 1978. But he had great teams and great players. He had the best team in basketball in 1984 but they fell apart in the G’town game. I think that baffled him like it did the rest of us. They were too good to play that way. But it happens with a one loss and out type of tournament.

    I still respected Hall for the way he conducted the program as much as for what he accomplished on the floor. I was disappointed when he retired. It doesn’t hurt that he took an interest in me for a short period I guess. My brother talked to Joe about playing when Hall got wind of the fact my brother bested Givens in a one on one situation (heavily influenced by bad playing conditions and my brother’s willingness to take chances where Jack wouldn’t and for good reason). Hall was completely straightforward with my brother and respectful too. He made it clear there would be no playing time involved because Hall had made commitments to the players he recruited which was entirely understandable. UK didn’t need too many walk on players in those days. They were generallyh loaded with talent much like they are now. Hall could pack the bench with top notch players like few coaches could.

    I love it that Hall is made a part of the program again. He deserves the honor and he deserves the respect. It’s another reason I respect the current coach. Hall was right about UK finding the perfect coach. I sometimes think it was a good thing that we endured the Billy Clyde era just so we fully realize what we have in Cal as a coach. I think the same about Smith to be honest but not on the same level as Gillispie of course. Clyde was about the worst coach UK could have chosen.

    I’m glad things worked out so well in the long run. UK has a gem of a coach now and the world has come to know it. Even CBS picked him as the top coach in college basketball recently. Given their history of bashing Cal that says a lot. That’s the same bunch that ran a stacked poll to label him the dirtiest coach in America. That sure doesn’t ring true now in the wake of the UNC scandal especially. The fact that Cal was never even accusued of wrong doing by the NCAA seems to have fallen on deaf ears in many places. CBS was one of those places but they have gotten over that stupidity. Not completely though. They still mentioned the NCAA sanctions against Cal’s teams. It’s funny how the NCAA doesn’t connect Cal to those scandals but CBS does. But they still had enough sense to realize Cal is the best coach in the country.

    http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/24596512/college-basketball-coaches-draft-who-would-you-pick-to-lead-your-team

  3. Bob

    I watched Rupp coach and everyone after Rupp. Ii think coach Calipari is another Wooden . However i have always loved Joe B Hall as my #1 coach .My fav. memorys are him and Dale Brown on the sidelines . Joe B is an gentle giant legend in Cats history to me .I know buildings get old and out of style as Rupp Arena . However to destory and rebuild this Liberty Bell of UK Basketball is crazy . This building carrys to much history and careers such as Joe B Hall , by the way the B is for Basketball. Cawood career as well .Remodle is OK but history isn’t something an state of the art chicken coop can replace .These Legends will live forever in this building . Note for anyone whom wants to destroy Rupp Arena your an ban wagon jumper because you are an part of the glory with exactly zero respect for whom this great program is , it’s history , or the path it has traveled threw lifes to get where it is. Mr Joe B Hall is one of those Lifes , Rupp Arena repersents , as is Bill Keightley too .This keeping up with the Jones is for the Birds as Cards birds . For an player to be able to stand on this court is a honor unlike any in NCAA basketball and to wear the name Kentucky is not for everyone . Great story about an great person. God Bless Joe B Hall .

  4. Larry T Clemons

    I love Coach Hall…He changed my life. A few of the players and I became friends in 77,78 &79. I’ll never forget, the first time I met Coach at the new Wildcat Lodge, Coach Hall walked in, (just checking on his boys). He looked right in my eyes, walked over to me grabbed me by my shoulder, then pulled me next to his huge tall frame…He looked down at me, (and honestly, I’m scared)…He said, ” Larry, I like You, I never get a bad report when my boys are with you.” He gave me a pat/hug and a big smile…finally, I could breathe. Some of the Players laughed as Coach left, they knew I was a little bit nervous, (heck, scared to death) after all, He Was Coach…” The New Wildcat Lodge, was pretty much, off limits “, but Coach allowed me there with open arms….” I was just excited He knew my name ! ” One of the Kindest, firmest, stoic Proud & Honorable Men I know…The day Coach Cal, reached out to Joe B. Hall, I knew Kentucky Was Back….Joe B Hall is, Home Grown, True Blue KENTUCKY BASKETBALL… When I think of The Kentucky Gentleman, ” I think of Coach Hall.” Thank you Coach, for changing this Kentucky Boys life…And the kindness, you showed my Mother & I when we saw you in Miami, that was so special, you made my Mom very proud, Thanks Coach ! And thank you Tina….Coach Hall, has shared love & warmth to many, He’s a Blessing.

  5. Jim Porter

    AWESOME post by Tina Cox and AMEN to above comments.
    At the UK Convention in Franklin, OH, held annually the 3rd Saturday in July, one of the
    many activities that our group does is name their favorite UK Basketball Coach. Joe B. is
    always at or near the top in receiving votes.
    Coach Hall also spent a day at our get-together and was a highlight speaker. And every
    year he allows me to publicize our Convention on the Joe B. and Denny Show. For this
    and much more, I am eternally grateful.

  6. Love SEC

    Another great article, Tina! Really enjoyed this one.
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
    Another reason Vaughts Views is daily reading for me.

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