Joe B. Hall was either an assistant or head coach at Kentucky from 1965-1985, and he played as a Wildcat from 1948 to 1949. He took the Cats to three Final Fours in his coaching career and won a National Championship in 1978. Needless to say, his time in Lexington was a major success.
After retiring, however, Hall felt a bit distant from the school he had such a strong passion for.
In an interview with Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader, the legendary coach said current UK coach John Calipari has gone above and beyond to bring him back to the school and make him feel part of the Kentucky family.
Enter John Calipari in 2009. He welcomed Hall back. He reminded the BBN about Hall’s contributions. He joked about Hall’s (unpaid) advice in practices. Maybe not so coincidentally, the crowd roared louder than ever whenever Hall appeared on the Rupp Arena video boards or came to center court, more recently with the aid of a cane, to do the “Y” in the K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y cheer.
“He really did a great job of encouraging me to come to practice,” Hall said of Calipari. “And he stayed close to me, and kept me a part of the program.”When asked what this kindness meant to him, Hall said simply, “Everything.”
Former Cat and current Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Calipari’s kindness and inclusion has helped prolong and add quality to Hall’s life.
“It extends his life . . . (Hall) perks up,” he said. “He may not ever admit it but, believe me, it adds so many more years.”
Hall told Tipton the attention he receives from Calipari and the Big Blue Nation at Rupp Arena and around Lexington is very much appreciated.
After a pause, he added, “I’m at that age where you appreciate that attention. It’s an age where you’re not that useful, but you appreciate someone thinking you are. So that’s a good feeling.”
Tipton’s article also goes on to discuss Calipari’s giving heart and the former coaches he has developed relationships with at UMass and Memphis.
Jack Leaman, former Massachusetts coach, and Gene Bartow, former Memphis coach, were the two figures Calipari connected with the most and did whatever he could to pick their brains to learn the art of coaching basketball. Both of them have since passed away, Leaman in 2004 and Bartow in 2012, but their respective families couldn’t be more appreciative of the time and effort Coach Cal put in to develop lifelong friendships with both of them.
“It was a relationship that just took off,” Rita Leaman, widow of Jack, said. “It was just wonderful for Jack. He felt still very much a part of UMass basketball even though he was no longer the coach. John makes a lot of people feel that way.”
“When my dad got stomach cancer, John was just incredible,” Bartow’s son, Murry, said. “As his son, I’m just emotional thinking about it. That friendship has meant a great deal to our family.”
For someone that has done so much good for the school in such a short period of time, it’s still incredible to see what John Calipari does behind closed doors and the impact he makes on so many individuals.
Read the rest of Tipton’s excellent article here.