You Gotta Love Hot Rod, Baby
Hot Rod’s retirement announcement yesterday marked the close of yet another chapter in franchise history. I don’t think I can say anything that hasn’t already been said by other fans. Like everyone else, I grew up listening to Hot Rod, and his instantly recognizable rumble was and is, to me, synonymous with the Utah Jazz. You can’t not love the way he calls games and paints an exact picture of what is happening on the court for the listeners. In an era of drivel overload, it is a pleasure, privilege, and relief to be able to put the TV/video feed on mute (no offense, Boler and Booner), and tune in to Hot Rod on KFAN.
His objectiveness and non-homerness sets him apart from too many of his colleagues in the NBA. If you’re not paying close attention and just rely on the cadence of his voice to tell you when something has happened or someone has scored, you’ll never know which team it was. Hot Rod gets excited about great plays regardless of uniform color, period. When the Jazz are sucking, he’ll call them out with as much disgust in his voice as we fans feel. And when things are dragging and the refs are holding the ball, his “come on, just let ‘em play” is exactly what the fans are thinking.
I said a few days ago, in regards to Dikembe, that it’s always sad when fate prevents people from retiring on their own terms. I guess that I can be happy for Hot Rod then, that he does get to do that. But I’m going to miss you enormously, Hot Rod. Whoever replaces you has some huge, huge shoes to fill, and I have no doubt that the poor guy that replaces you will be beset by unwarranted cries of “he sucks!” simply because he is not you.
It’s nothing short of devastating to lose first LHM and now Hot Rod in the same season (I was going to post a picture of Hot Rod being presented the signed “Hundley” jersey on his 3,000th game in January at the top, but seeing Larry next to him made me sad). When the duo of StocktonToMalone bid us farewell after 18 years, it was the trio of LHM, Hot Rod, and Jerry that made it so easy to be and stay a Jazz fan through the next few years and all the changes that okurred. And so when I read Jerry’s comments on Hot Rod’s retirement–
“I know I don’t have much time left (either),” said Sloan…”(But) life goes on, and we wish him nothing but the best, because we’ve also been good friends.”
–my heart sank. Stick around, Jerry. We can’t lose all three of you in the same season.
Hundley has broadcast 3,048 Jazz regular-season and playoff games, as the team’s simulcast voice on radio and television for 31 seasons and radio alone for the past four seasons.
But the NBA hasn’t made Hundley’s job any easier in recent years. No longer are teams required to provide courtside seating for radio broadcasters, forcing Hundley to call games from the very top of the lower bowl at EnergySolutions Arena and elsewhere (sltrib).
I don’t get this. I just don’t get this. Can someone explain it to me? I’m sure there’s more to the situation (money, etc.) than meets my simple eye, but how do you not give this freaking legend that has not only been around since the New Orleans days, but has also called 3,000 games for the franchise the seat of his choice? If you ask me, it should be the play-by-play radio guy that gets the courtside seat rather than the TV guys who can and do wander off on random tangents throughout the game (did you know that Matt Harpring used to be a football player, and that Ronnie Brewer broke his arm when he was a kid? Again, no offense Boler and Booner).
Final random tangent of my own: the more I watch Playoff games, the more kudos I must give KOC for only signing Euros with normal, non-ugly hair.