Sad note from the NBA today, where iconic Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley announced that he is going to retire after the end of the current season. That means tonight could mark his swan song behind the microphone.
There are a group of displaced NBA fans such as myself and my younger brother, that got into the league when satellite signals were ripe for the picking and the dishes were the size of a flying saucer. Back then, most teams relied on a single voice for play-by-play to do both radio and television in a simulcast. As such, you could really “listen” to a game while you were watching it and these voices invariably became the prism through which you came to know each team. For us, the Hot Rod was the Jazz, before Karl Malone, before John Stockton, even before Pete Maravich.
He’ll be missed. The Jazz went away from simulcasting a few years back, so Hot Rod was only on the radio and the new generation of League Pass subscribers never got to know him. Every once in awhile, I’d still fire up the Jazz radio broadcast from the Audio Pass, but it wasn’t synched with the video. Still, it was always good to hear an old friend.
The old school simulcasters are pretty much gone. The days of Jim Durham calling the Bulls, Chick Hearn the Lakers, Kevin Callabro the Sonics, among others, are behind us. In their place are a different breed of play-by-play announcers, more intent on offering commentary and exchanging banter with their color analysts than describing the action. The Jazz are still in good shape as Craig Bolerjack, who took over TV duties from Hundley, is one of the best in the business.
Still, there are few that had or will have the flair of Hot Rod Hundley. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.