Written by John Antonik
For all that he was as an All-American basketball player at West Virginia University, there are many who believed "Hot" Rod Hundley could have been so much more.
Hundley was a self-made basketball player who played the game the way he wanted -- which was completely different than the way it was being played in the 1950s.
Hundley was "Pistol Pete" Maravich when Maravich was still in diapers.
Instead of a bounce pass, Hundley tossed the ball behind his back. He often shot hook shots at the free throw line or hung on the rim waiting for a teammate to throw him a lob pass.
He used to dribble behind his back before it was fashionable. He would spin the ball on his finger, roll it down his arm, then around his back.
He took nearly everything to an extreme, much to the delight of West Virginians who packed the old Field House like never before to see him play.
The old timers recall his clowning, but hidden beneath his showmanship was a remarkable ability suited much more for the modern game of today.
Hundley averaged 24.5 points per game over three seasons. His 2,180 career points finished second to All-American Jerry West.
During his three years as a regular, West Virginia posted an incredible 72-16 (.818) record, including three Southern Conference titles and three NCAA tournament appearances.
As a freshman Hundley established the freshman scoring record with 62 points against the Ohio University plebes and averaged almost 35 points per game.
"Hot" Rod set the WVU single-game scoring record with 54 points against Furman, and still holds seven other school marks.
In the 1954 Southern Conference tournament, Hundley had an opportunity to set the tournament scoring record with two free throws in the waning seconds of the championship game against George Washington.
With the outcome already decided, Hundley shot two air balls. The first one was a hook shot. The second one was a behind-the-back heave.
Named to five All-America teams in 1957, he was the first pick of the 1957 NBA draft and played with the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers from 1958-63. He made one appearance in the NBA all-star game in 1961.
Bad knees and Coach Fred Schaus' distaste for clowning limited his NBA career to just five years.
Once on a trip back to West Virginia to play in a charity game at the WVU Coliseum, constructed more than 10 years after Hundley left WVU, Rod was said to have replied to Hall of Famer Jerry West: "I built this building."
West retorted, "Yeah but I paid it off."
That's vintage "Hot" Rod Hundley, a player who never took himself too seriously, and lived his life accordingly.
Today basketball fans can listen to "Hot" Rod's gravelly voice announcing Utah Jazz basketball games, a job he has held for the last 28 years.
In 1994, he won the NBA's Distinguished Broadcaster Award, an honor bestowed only twice previously and in 2003, Hundley was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a broadcaster.