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Josh Hopkins on Appreciating Joe B Hall

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My earliest Kentucky basketball memories involve a mini-Josh Hopkins as a seven year old sitting in Rupp Arena watching our Cats do battle with various evil foes. I was lucky when my dad was able to finagle tickets but also slightly lost as my focus was on more than the game. For me, the game was about basketball, popcorn, but also trying to locate where our Cat mascot was roaming around and if I could get him to come and talk to me.

Fan behavior was also of interest to me. At more than one game, I asked, “Dad, why are they booing Goose Givens?”

“They’re not booing him they’re yelling ‘Goooooooose!’, he would explain but I was always worried poor Goose wouldn’t understand and take it personally.

Another Cat who elicited less than enthusiastic applause from our home crowd was none other than our head coach, Joe B. Hall. It is bizarre to think about now, but back then, when Joe B was introduced before games, the Rupp crowd usually greeted him with mild applause and scattered boos.

Looking back its easy to see what a difficult situation our coach was in at the time. While a collective sense of apathy seemed to pervade Rupp at the time, the clearing perspective of time certainly shows Joe B. as not only a winning coach but also, a true gentleman. He is a Kentucky legend and his importance to the program and the state is on a level that I think many of us have yet to appreciate.

Thank God for Cal. As been said on this site many a time, Cal gets it. And part of his getting it has been his genius ability to understand that much of what makes Kentucky great lies in our storied past. Cal has reached out to so many past greats and made sure that they feel a part of today’s program. Chiefly amongst those has been Coach Hall. Cal has honored Joe. B on several occasions and continually speaks of his stellar record leading the program. Joe B. has great access to all things UK Basketball now (as he should) but, again, do we truly recognize how lucky we are to have him?

Joe Beasman Hall was born a Kentuckian in Cynthiana, Kentucky in 1928. He won a championship as a player for the Cats in 1949 and remains one of only three men to both play on and coach a national championship team and he is the ONLY one to do it at THE SAME SCHOOL.

Coach Hall spent TWENTY YEARS coaching basketball at Kentucky, the first seven as assistant under our legendary Adolph Rupp. When Joe B. took over in 1972 he was assigned the unenviable task of replacing a legend during a time of massive change in the sport. UCLA’s dynasty run was coming to end and parity had finally begun to saturate the College basketball scene. After all, even The Baron had come upon hard times as Kentucky was in a thirteen season championship drought (a lifetime for the Big Blue Nation) when Hall was handed the reins. Without the luxury of hindsight, Cat fans expected to win, win now, and win big. In 1975 Coach Hall guided us to NCAA runner-up finish, which included a huge upset of heavily favored Indiana. Still a lot of UK fans handled the feat with skepticism and the grumbling still occurred.

But none of that deterred Joe B and in 1978 Hall delivered the elusive Championship back to Lexington with a team that dominated that season in much the same way our ’96 and current championship team did. It was a spectacular run that once again situated UK basketball on the top of the college scene and it was the moment that in my eyes, Joe B became a legend. While Coach Hall’s teams won no other banners in his tenure, they were consistently relevant nationally. And as any UK fan can tell you, his 1984 team that made the Final Four before losing to fellow number one seed Georgetown Hoyas and Patrick Ewing, was a special group.

Hall ended his thirteen season head coaching tenure with a stellar 297 wins and 100 losses and just this year was elected to the National College Basketball Hall of Fame. For all he contributed in wins and losses Coach Hall’s greatest gift to The University was, and is, his character and gentlemanly spirit. In a time when coaches like Bob Knight were gaining much fame and praise for their over the top disciplinary style and outlandish antics (see 1974 when Bob Knight actually slapped Joe Hall in the back of the neck on the sidelines of a game between the two schools. Joe B, ever dignified, turned and walked away) Hall represented the university with class and honor, a gentleman who always credited others with success while taking full blame for any team’s shortcomings or losses.

He was known as the coach who replaced a legend but his truest task was connecting ideologies, old school to new school. He had to resurrect a Goliath from the dark ages into the new era of fast-paced parity, all under the critical eye of a fan base that longed for a time that had long passed.

Many of the great programs in college basketball hold their much deserved legendary coaches in high regard. North Carolina and their honorable, Kansas born and bred Dean Smith. UCLA and their majestic, Indiana native John Wooden and our own coaching giant, the Kansas born Adolph Rupp. But one of our legends is from the state where he did his finest work. Kentuckian Joe B. Hall is a living embodiment of what is great about Kentucky basketball and one we should fully honor and praise while we are lucky to have him here with us. He still lives in Lexington and does his radio show constantly trumpeting our beloved basketball team and program.

He may not have as many wins or titles, but no one has given a lifetime to a program or a state like one of the greatest Kentuckians, our own Joe B Hall.

In other Kentuckian news, I was asked to play in a charity kickball game benefitting Baron Davis’ Rising Stars of America foundation. It was an eclectic mix of NBA ballers and Hollywood types and fun was generally had by all despight it being about 170 degrees.
Anyway, big time rising movie star and fellow Kentuckian, Josh Hutcherson was there wearing a Kentucky baseball cap. We had met before so we exchanged hellos and I mentioned that we needed to get a pic with the two former Kentucky players that were participating. Josh paused and said, “two? I saw Tayshaun Prince, who else is here?”

I pointed across the dugout to Kelenna Azubuike who had just walked in and Josh lost every bit of movie star cool for just a second as he grabbed his buddy and, with all the intensity of a thirteen year old girl seeing Justin Beiber, yelled “Kelenna Azubuike is here too! Yes!”

In short, he’s one of us.

Article written by Josh Hopkins

38 Comments for Josh Hopkins on Appreciating Joe B Hall



  1. Stoesscat
    9:33 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    First



  2. mike
    9:36 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Love these weekly articles. You’re doing a great job, Josh.



  3. Jaxalum
    9:44 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    love me some Joe B. good work



  4. EyewearMan
    9:48 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Josh, I’m glad you’re one of us too! Enjoy reading your stories, and hearing about them on KSR! Keep up the good work!



  5. Gogh Big Bleu
    9:49 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    It is shocking how much Daniel Orton looks like Russell Westbrook.



  6. Travis
    10:00 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Great topic and post, man!!! Keep up the great work…Go CATS!!! #Homerun



  7. Zach
    10:05 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Your posts are greatly entertaining. Great stuff.



  8. sean
    10:08 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    ive never heard of the incident where bob knight slapped him, if anyone can find a pic or vid of that post it, more proof of how bob knoght sucks



  9. Yo
    10:09 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Great stuff. Azubuike was a stud. Hope he finally gets healthy



  10. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    10:09 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Bro B. Hall



  11. blitzedanddazed
    10:14 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    I was a student at UK in 1978. I probably attended 98% of the home games that Joe Hall coached.
    To say that Joe H. was “often” greeted with mild applause and a scattering of boos is absurd.
    There are always a few ignorant individuals among groups of people. I just think the writer just happened to be among these individuals.



  12. Pawn star
    10:22 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Anybody else just see chandler burden on hard knocks



  13. Ky_99
    10:24 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Josh I mean this in the best possible way. Do quit your day job bc your post are great!



  14. Ridge Runner
    10:28 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    This post was awesome and a greta trip down memory lane!



  15. Ridge Runner
    10:28 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    oops…great^



  16. jaxcats8503
    10:30 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    #despite



  17. Greg Hilbert
    10:36 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Coach Hall absolutely is a great legend and tribute to this state, in more ways than basketball. I remember seeing him and shaking his hand when he got out of his truck at St. Gregorys Church in Samuels Ky. to see my grandparents on there wedding anniversery not too many years ago. He worked with Granddad at Bernheim Forest in Bullitt County while he coached at Shepherdsville High School and they remained friends until Granddad passed. Coach was kind enough to have lunch at Raffertys with me and several family members last year shortly after the Pros vs. Dominicans game. What a treat for us to sit and eat and converse with a man with his history and success. The man who followed THE legend of Kentucky Basketball, and won at the expected highest level. The basketball aspect of that meal and nostalgia was was tremendous in and of itself, but coach was such a cool dude, and pefect gentleman. Talking to us all and calling us all by name throughout and sharing stories about basketball, travels, and Granddad left me quite impressed that he indeed was a fine man. Coach Hall is a credit to humanity, basketball, and the Commonwealth. He is beloved and deserving of the attention he receives after almost 30 years after his retirement from the game. Joe Beaseman Hall. They should name the new improved arena “Rupp Hall”!! Go Joe!



  18. uktg
    10:54 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    I like Coach Hall but have to disagree with the comment he is a tribute to our state. He once controlled over 400 Rupp Arena basketball seats and brokered the sale through scalpers. He also in the last 10 years helped milk a lot of young unsuspecting young men into investing in a pyramid scheme. Good coach, but not the saint he is being made out to be.



  19. Linda Taylor
    10:56 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    I was fortunate enough to come across Coach Hall shooting the breeze with some of his buddies at a local coffee/doughnut shop about 10 years ago. I worked up my courage, went up to him and said “Coach Hall, may I shake your hand?” Of course he was ever the gentleman and graciously shook my hand and we talked about the prospects for the team’s upcoming season. I will always appreciate those minutes with a legend. Thank you Josh for your wonderful article about Coach Hall. Keep these posts coming, you’re doing a terrific job.



  20. catintn
    10:57 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL ARTICLE JOSH, I thoroughly enjoyed it so thank you!!! GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!



  21. GoCats2010
    11:00 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Daniel Orton is lame. We need to crop him out of photos…replace him with a ninja turtle or something…oh wait



  22. Get a clue
    11:00 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    #11 really get a clue. Do you even know who Josh is? He has been a great ambassador to the state lately and a true Uk fan. I don’t know him but can say from his posts and the live he has shown our great university Josh never once booed coach Hall. Please stop posting when you don’t have a clue. Thank, I’m done now.



  23. Rommy Goodman
    11:00 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Joe B. is an absolute class act and gentleman..



  24. SKat
    11:06 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    @8: Read Joe B.’s account of the 1974 incident here:

    http://www.shadowlanestudios.com/temp/knight.html



  25. chief_cat
    11:07 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Great article Josh! I remember Coach Hall roaming the sidelines with that rolled up program back in the 70s and early 80s. I also remember him and some of the seniors visiting my hometown, Russellville, a couple of times when I was a kid. In my mind, he was the biggest thing to hit the town since Jesse James.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane and for the tribute to a great coach and an even better gentleman. We are, indeed, lucky to have Coach still around.

    I second the idea to rename the updated arena to Rupp-Hall. It has a really nice ring to it.



  26. WKY Dude
    11:13 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    #8…Sean…this isn’t a video, but it is a “transcript” of the incident as told by Joe B. http://kentuckysportsradio.com/?p=101939



  27. suggestion
    12:20 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Josh love the post about Joe B, but a suggestion for a future post might be about some interactions with other people in hollywood about the cats. Maybe some stories about trash talking with other celebs or even how other actors support their teams and how their fandom compares to yours/Kentucky fans.



  28. Mrs Patterson
    12:36 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    My sis-in-law who is a texan married into Kentucky loooooooves Azibuke. He has a way 🙂



  29. JCPostel
    1:38 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Well done, Josh. We need more articles like this featuring great Kentuckians connected to basketball in the Bluegrass. Keep up the good work.



  30. duh
    1:43 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Josh…a very nice post…Coach Hall is a legend for sure!



  31. IuCanSukaBIGblue....
    2:43 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Great piece of work. I love how our former players and coaches embrace the special bond we all have. Once a Wildcat always a Wildcat.

    No other program has this bond. Young to old. West to east. You can be on vacation in Cancun, Mexico and see a uk shirt and talk to a complete stranger like they are your best friend.

    Makes me even more proud to be a Wildcat.

    Go Big Blue!!! Beat them dirty chickens.



  32. bam
    7:33 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    GREAT ARTICLE ……



  33. barn
    8:21 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    26–what a prick knight is. wish someone would start a “hate bob knight day” post. it’s always good to vent



  34. ben
    9:08 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    I was a freshman at UK in 1972! Joe B. Hall was an assistant to Rupp all those previous years and when he became head coach, he made it about the players and not the coach. Joe knew what the fans liked and he had the public practices in Louisville and played a high profile game in Louisville. The four hundred tickets we part of his pay package and for him to use as he saw fit! It was a different time in college sports and it would be wrong to judge it by todays standards. It is not a easy job to be KY’s Coach! It can be very rewarding with the right person.



  35. UKBlue1!
    10:20 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    I was glad to see Coach Hall inducted in the HOF. It’s ashame it took so long but at least he is here to enjoy it. I have always believed he did a great job following up a legend. 1 NCAA, 3 Final fours and his great love for UK. The Sutton, Billy Clyde and Tubby years have made me appreciate him even more. Coach Hall always will have one on Knight. The loss in the 1975 region still burns.



  36. Johnny Ballgame
    10:55 am August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Thats Justin Timberlake not Jon Hamm, btw.



  37. NotSatire
    12:26 pm August 22, 2012 Permalink

    The look on Joe B’s face right at the buzzer of this year’s championship on CBS….priceless.



  38. Greg Slade
    12:54 pm August 22, 2012 Permalink

    Great post. Keep ’em coming!