Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Statue of Joe B. Hall greets fans, players outside of new Wildcat Coal Lodge on campus
Joe B Hall and John Calipari pose with the new statue. (Photo by Jon Hale)
To a generation of UK basketball fans, Joe B. Hall is the affable, good-natured man at UK basketball games and on the radio.
Now, those fans can get a glimpse of what they missed in Joe B. Hall the coach with a stroll through UK’s campus.
On Tuesday, UK unveiled a 400-pound bronze sculpture of Hall in his coaching stance outside of the new Wildcat “Coal” Lodge. The sculpture includes two vacant bench seats for anyone who wants to take a breather and sit with the coach.
“No one has a speech for the unveiling of a statue of them,” Hall said at a ceremony Tuesday. “The pigeons will appreciate it.”
The sculpture was designed by J. Brett Grill of Columbia, Mo., and based upon pictures of Hall coaching at UK. Grill also designed the statue of President Gerald Ford in the Capitol rotunda.
Hall coached at UK from 1973-1985, compiling a career record of 297-100. The Cynthiana, Ky., native was given the difficult task of following Adolph Rupp as the UK coach.
He reached three Final Fours and led the Wildcats to the program’s fifth national championship in 1978. The previous dorm that housed basketball players as well as a small portion of the general student body was named the Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge in his honor.
“There are coaches in this profession that have to follow legends in their time,” said UK head coach John Calipari. “John Wooden. Bear Bryant. Vince Lombardi. One of them was Phog Allen. The other guys was Adolph Rupp. No one that followed those other coaches won championships. No one. There’s one guy, and we’re here with him today.”
Hall took the unveiling of the statue with his normal good humor.
“You didn’t use the pictures I gave you of Gregory Peck,” Hall joked. “I tried to influence the artist a little bit. He got my glasses right, that’s for sure.”
Hall took a break from cracking one-liners for some genuine reflection on his time as the head of the program.
“I had the opportunity when I worked for coach Rupp to hit every county in this state, and every place I went there were little kids amazed that someone from the University of Kentucky basketball would be in their community,” he said. “I saw the enormous interest in this program when I took over the reins. That ensured that I was going to work hard, and hard work is what it takes.”
After the statue was unveiled, Hall took the time to pose for photos with Calipari and some of the other dignitaries in attendance.
As Hall smiled next to the bronze likeness of himself, a reporter asked if he had any advice for that younger Joe B. Hall.
“I’d tell him to find an easier job,” he joked. “Go to a Division III school.”
Click here for a photo gallery of the statue unveiling and Calipari’s tour of the new Wildcat Coal Lodge.