Bob Huggins and Bill Self compete on the court, but off the court, the duo has made it apparent that they have more than a positive relationship. That’s why it was just as much of a shock to Huggins as it was to the Jayhawk fanbase to find out that Self had checked into the hospital the night before his team was to take on West Virginia.
As of Thursday afternoon, Huggins had not had the chance to speak with Self.
“I kind of need to find out from his guys when’s a good time,” Huggins said. “I don’t want to make a call or do whatever that’s not in his best interest. I want to do what’s in his best interest.”
Despite earlier rumors that Self had suffered a heart attack, the Dr. Steve Stites of the University of Kansas Health System said the coach instead underwent a standard procedure and was doing well on Thursday. He will not coach the remainder of the Big 12 Tournament.
Huggins has had his fair share of health episodes during his career. In 1999 during his stint at Cincinnati, he suffered a heart attack that put him in the hospital during the offseason. He had another one in the 2002 preseason, but made it back for the Bearcats’ first day of practice.
Those issues have followed him to West Virginia, most recently in 2017, when he collapsed to the court when his defibrillator went off during a game.
“It comes to there are times when you don’t really have a choice, and I went through that, I had no choice,” Huggins said. “I was in the hospital with a whole bunch of tubes and somebody coming in it seemed like every 15 minutes and sticking me with something.”
This development has given Huggins an opportunity to reflect on the importance of things away from the game of basketball, especially since Self has helped Huggins in ways bigger than the game. Just last season as their two teams were gearing up to square off, Self took the stage as a marquee guest at the Bob Huggins Fish Fry.
His attendance helped raise more than $2 million for the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Fund.
“Sometimes, you take for granted how good you have it because a person or a figure is so visible to the people in the area, and that’s what you’ve got with this guy,” Self said at the Fish Fry in 2022. “There’s nobody that’s better for our game or is more of a personality that brings interest than Bob does. I felt the same way when he was at K-State. Now, I’d rather him be in Morgantown than Manhattan, but I did feel that as well.”
A year later, Huggins just wants his friend and rival to get back to coaching shape.
“I want Bill to get well, I want to say as soon as he can, but really I think what I need to say, or I mean to say is I want him to come out of there the way she’s always been,” Huggins said.