And in a minor way, the Suns, too.
Announcing his retirement after calling more than 3,000 games with the Jazz, longtime play-by-play man “Hot” Rod Hundley got his initial taste of the main chair by calling the action for the Suns in his first season in the Valley in 1970. An interim fill-in after the sudden death of team broadcaster Bob Vache, “Hot” Rod vacated his analyst seat to do play-by-play the very next night.
As he told the Deseret Morning News in 2003, he remembered his first call as the Suns winning the tip and future Suns Ring of Honor great Dick Van Arsdale scoring on a layup.
“I made it sound like we won the world championship,” Hundley was quoted. “The first thing you have to learn is to control your voice, the ups and downs, and not try to overpower.”
Paired with former Suns Head Coach-turned color man Johnny “Red” Kerr for the remainder of that season, Hundley’s foray calling the action was a quick one, moving back to the analyst seat a year later under new play-by-play man Joe McConnell. Two years later, he teamed up with another new broadcast partner, Al McCoy, for two seasons.
“Hot Rod was my first analyst and my first color partner,” McCoy told Suns.com. “He taught me the NBA ropes on and off the court. We had a fun time and a great relationship. He’s the best. He was my color announcer and went on to become one of the most revered play-by-play announcers in the NBA.”
Before his retirement Monday, Hundley was the last remaining member of the original Jazz staff from the team’s inaugural 1974 season in New Orleans, that also included the franchise’s subsequent relocation to Utah five years later.
Much like McCoy in 2007, Hundley was also honored for his electronic broadcast contributions to the game and awarded the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. Of course, this was just one of many peaks in his basketball life, including collegiate success at West Virginia University, a No. 1 overall selection in the 1957 NBA Draft, two NBA All-Star selections and countless games behind the mic as a broadcaster for the Jazz, Suns and Lakers.
“He was a guy who had lived basketball from the ground up,” McCoy added. “He was an All-American in college and an NBA All-Star. He had a tremendous knowledge of the game and tremendous insight into the game. He provided that with me as an analyst, and then he went on to do the same for many years as a play-by-play announcer for the Jazz.
“He was a unique, outgoing personality that loved basketball and the fans, and it came through in his broadcasts.”