Friday, March 27, 2015

Hot Rod Hundley

PHOENIX -- Hot Rod Hundley, the former NBA player who broadcast Jazz games in New Orleans and Utah for 35 years, died Friday. He was 80.

The Jazz said Hundley died at his home in the Phoenix area.

Hundley broadcast 3,051 Jazz games from 1974 to 2009. He joined the franchise before its first season in New Orleans in 1974-75 and moved with the team to Salt Lake City in 1979-80.

The Jazz honored Hundley in 2010, hanging a banner in the rafters next to the team's retired numbers and dedicating the press room to him.

As part of the tribute, the Jazz redecorated the press room in Hundley's honor. A timeline of his career, including blown-up quotes from some of his more famous calls, and photos from Hundley's decades calling games line the walls of the Hot Rod Hundley Media Center.

The mural features a big and bold "You Gotta Love it, Baby!" -- Hundley's signature line.

"Hot Rod was the voice of the Utah Jazz for 35 years and his voice was synonymous with Jazz radio," Jazz owner Gail Miller said in a statement. "The expressions he used throughout the game broadcasts are legendary. He had the unique ability to make the game come to life so that you felt as though you could see what was happening on the floor when listening to him call the games.

"Rod was a very special talent and will be missed by our family as well as Jazz fans everywhere. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Hundley family."

Hundley also was a broadcaster for four seasons with the Phoenix Suns and four with the Lakers and called NBA games for CBS.

As a player, Hundley starred at West Virginia, averaging 24.5 points in three varsity seasons. He was drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Royals in 1957 and was immediately traded to the Minneapolis Lakers.

He averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists in six seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, playing in the 1960 and 1961 All-Star games.

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