FROM THE ARCHIVE: “Hot Rod” Hundley
Posted on December 6, 2011
Utah Jazz radio announcer Hot Rod Hundley poses with a set of golf clubs in front of his house in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 15, 1991. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
It is always a great feeling to go through old pictures and stumble upon an assignment that was completed many years ago that I had long forgotten. Memories of that day come roaring back and I am immediately back in time working that shoot again. I have had many of these experiences lately as I continue to comb through my old slides with the goal of getting the good stuff scanned, captioned and uploaded to my online archive. A recent discovery had me going back 20 years to the days when I was on staff for The National Sports Daily. On this particular day in March of 1991 I had the pleasure of hanging out with legendary Utah Jazz broadcaster “Hot Rod” Hundley.
The spring of 1991 was a great time for me. You could call it the “salad days” of my one year stint in the big leagues as a National staffer. In March of 1991 I set out on one of the best road trips/assignments of my life. At the beginning of my two-week journey I spent a seven days in Arizona covering spring training for the first time and had a blast. From Phoenix I flew to Salt Lake City to shoot the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s hoops tourney, shooting teams like Seton Hall, BYU, Arizona, and Creighton. After that I flew to Las Vegas to shoot the Mike Tyson vs. Donovan “Razor” Ruddock fight at the Mirage with fellow staffer Chris Covatta. What a whirlwind tour! Wedged in the between the two rounds of the NCAA tourney in Salt Lake City was the shoot I want to talk about today: my day with Hot Rod Hundley.
We were doing a feature on the famous broadcaster, so I arranged to spend some time with him at his house, and then go to a home game that night at the Salt Palace to shoot him doing his job. My editor gave me some instructions on what to shoot at the house, mainly his refrigerator that was empty, with the exception of dozens of cans of Budweiser. Of course, this is the one picture I cannot find to show you. It was AMAZING! Hundley did not cook at home and liked to pound the ol’ Budweiser. What a fun guy!
Before becoming a household name as a basketball broadcaster Hundley had a good playing career in the late 50’s – early 60’s with the Cincinnati Royals and Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers that ended early in 1963 because of bad knees. In 1974 he became the first radio and television voice of the expansion New Orleans Jazz. He followed the team to Salt Lake City in 1979, where he became as celebrated as a broadcaster as he was as a player. During his time in New Orleans Hundley became very close friends with Pete Maravich. Maravich had only been dead for three years when I met Hundley, and since I was always a huge Maravich fan he told me some great stories about their friendship.
After shooting pictures at the house it was time to head to the arena where I would shoot him broadcasting the game. Of course, those pictures were not that exciting, but the trip to the Salt Palace was well worth it for the fun post-game activities. After the game Hundley had me follow him into the Jazz TINY locker room. I hung out as he talked to John Stockton and other players. Of course I was young (26) and still figuring out what I was doing having so much fun and getting paid to be there. Before we left Hundley dipped his hand into a an ice bucket full of cans of Budweiser. “Want a beer?” asked Hundley. “Sure!” I said. I got to pound some Budweiser with Hot Rod Hundley in the Jazz locker room. It was 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday, thanks to the pictures I still have from that day.