Hot Rod Hundley : WVU Basketball Legend dead at 80

Hot Rod Hundley : WVU Basketball Legend dead at 80

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

Hundley was the voice of the team — 31 years on a radio/television simulcast and his final four as radio only — for 35 years, beginning with the team’s first season in New Orleans in 1974 up until 2009. He called 3,051 Jazz games all told. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago.

“Hot Rod was the voice of the Utah Jazz for 35 years and his voice was synonymous with Jazz radio,” said Gail Miller, owner of the franchise, in a press release from the team. “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.”

Former Jazz player Thurl Bailey, now a broadcaster for the team himself, said Hot Rod influenced his career after stepping off the court.

“Just because I knew the joy he got in broadcasting. You could tell with every word he said … he put his personality behind it,” said Bailey. “I really think that Hot Rod was even at the level of some of the greatest players that played here.”

Hundley was the only member of the Jazz staff to remain with the franchise through its first 35 seasons. The team dedicated the media center at Energy Solutions Arena to him in 2010, with images of his career lining the walls. The Jazz also honored Hundley with a banner in the rafters that still hangs to this day.

“Rod was a true professional, a great personal friend and remains a legend in the NBA broadcast industry,” said Jazz President Randy Rigby. “From his start with the franchise in New Orleans in 1974 when the Jazz were an expansion team, Hot Rod built a fan base that remains unmatchable. With his signature ‘You Gotta Love it, Baby!’ to ‘With a gentle push and a mild arc the old cow hide globe hit home,’ Rod will be remembered as a true scholar of the game and will always remain a member of the Jazz family.”