SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — He had to love it, baby!
The Utah Jazz honored Hot Rod Hundley for his 35 years with the club, hanging a banner in the rafters next to the team's retired numbers Friday and dedicating the press room to the team's longtime radio and television broadcaster.
Hundley called games for the Jazz from the time they were an expansion team playing in New Orleans in 1974 until last summer, when he retired.
As part of the tribute, the Jazz redecorated the press room in Hundley's honor with a grand opening Friday night before the Jazz hosted the Sacramento Kings. A timeline of Hundley's career, including blown-up quotes from some of his more famous calls, and photos from Hundley's decades calling games line the walls of the Hot Rod Hundley Media Center.
The mural features a big and bold "You Gotta Love it, Baby!" — Hundley's signature line.
Jazz fans gave Hundley a standing ovation at halftime while unveiling a banner with the team's retired numbers. Instead of a number, a big purple microphone topped the banner, which also noted Hundley's 3,051 games with the Jazz.
Hundley made the move to Utah with the rest of the club in 1979 and did both the television and radio broadcasts until 2005, then spent four more years on the radio.
Hundley was a star player at West Virginia and the No. 1 pick in the 1957 draft. He played six NBA seasons for the Lakers before he retired in 1963. Hundley started his broadcasting career teaming with Chick Hearn on Lakers broadcasts from 1967-69.
Hundley also worked for the Phoenix Suns before joining the expansion New Orleans Jazz in 1974. During a halftime speech Friday, he recalled first landing in Utah as the club made the move the Big Easy to the Salt Lake Valley.
"I said this is my kinda town," Hundley said to loud cheers.
The Lakers recalled Hundley for a brief stint earlier this season to fill in for television commentator Stu Lantz, who took time off to be with his wife while she recovered from surgery.