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.