Members of the Utah Jazz bow their heads during a tribute to the team's long-time announcer Hot Rod Hundley before facing the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Denver. Hundley, the former NBA player who broadcast Jazz games in New Orleans and Utah for 35 years, died Friday. He was 80. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
PHOENIX (AP) — 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 1974-2009. 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.
“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 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.
“I am saddened by the news of the passing of my longtime friend, Rod Hundley,” Hall of Famer Jerry West said in a statement. “I first met Rod when I was 18 and he encouraged be to attend West Virginia University. We were Laker teammates and never lost contact.
“Rod was not only a great basketball player, but one of the best play-by-play announcers in the game. He will be missed by all those he touched through his legendary career as will his colorful story-telling.”
Hundley also was a broadcaster for four seasons with the Phoenix Suns and four with the Lakers and called NBA games for CBS.
The 1957 associated press All-America college basketball team includes three big fellows and “Hot Rod” Hundley of West Virginia—plus two short players on March 5, 1957. (AP Photo)
Former player for the Los Angeles Lakers and longtime broadcaster for the Utah Jazz, Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley simulates a hook shot after being honored during the Jazz' halftime at a NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 in Salt Lake City. Hundley called 3,051 games in his 35-year career. (AP Photo/Colin Braley)
Former West Virginia player "Hot Rod" Hundley acknowledges the crowd during a ceremony to retire his number during halftime of an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State in Morgantown, W.Va. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/David Smith)
Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby, left, presents an autographed jersey to long-time NBA broadcaster "Hot" Rod Hundley, right, during halftime of an NBA game against the New Orleans Hornets, Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009 in Salt Lake City. The game marked Hundley's 3,000th broadcast with the Jazz and 42 years broadcasting in the NBA. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)
Utah Jazz broadcaster "Hot" Rod Hundley prepares for his 3,000th broadcast with the Jazz before an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in Salt Lake City. Hundley has been an NBA broadcaster for 42 years. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)
“Hot Rod” Hundley, West Virginia scoring ace, moves basketball behind his hip as he sets up a play in the second half of game against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden in New York on Feb. 16, 1956. Hundley scored 40 points in leading teammate to a 82-75 victory. His game total set a garden record for a collegian this year set a garden record for a collegian this year and gave him a sophomore-junior two year total of 1,338 points- for a NCAA record. (AP Photo/MZ)