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Basketball great from WVU reflects off the court

April 20, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • Former NBA player and broadcaster Rodney Hot Rod Hundley will appear Saturday, April 27, in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — You gotta love it, baby!

Former West Virginia University basketball standout, NBA player and professional broadcaster Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley is coming to Martinsburg as part of the Chocolate Fest and Book Faire on Saturday, April 27.

Hundley's appearance highlights the two-day event, which kicks off Saturday at The Arts Center, 300 W. King, and highlights chocolate and books. Tickets cost $50.

It's been years since Hundley has made his way back to Martinsburg. Back then, he said, he had made a stop in the Eastern Panhandle.

"I had team of barnstormers from all around the state made up of players, ex-players and those retired or those still working as broadcasters or as a player. We teamed up and were Hundley's All-Stars," Hundley said during a telephone interview from his Phoenix home.

Hundley said he traveled around West Virginia to play games and show off his trademark goofy, playful games.

For Hundley, it's like life has always been basketball. The 78-year-old was born and raised in Charleston, W.Va. By the time he got to Thomas Jefferson Junior High, Hundley was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and he said he was hooked on basketball.

In junior high, he showed early signs of being a great player and set the state record with 441 points for a single season and averaged 20 points per game.

When he entered Charleston High School, Hundley continued to play. He usually averaged 30 points a game. In three years he broke the state's four-year scoring record, which helped him to be named All-American.

"I got an invitation to go to Morgantown (W.Va.) on a scholarship and the rest of it is history," he said.

It was at WVU where Hundley became a standout star during the years of 1954 to 1957. During that time, he helped the lead the Mountaineers to their first NCAA tournament appearances. And while he was on the court, Hundley was the fourth player in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points during his career.

Hundley is proud at what he was able to accomplish at WVU.

"I had a great career," he said, noting that WVU recently retired his number, 33.

But basketball wasn't done with Hundley yet. In 1957, Hundley was the  No. 1 draft pick of the Cincinnati Royals, who immediately traded him to the Minneapolis Lakers, where he played from 1958 to 1963, including their move to Los Angeles, "I got a call that said 'You've been picked to be the No. 1 draft of the NBA.' And I said, 'Wow.' That was a nice thing that happened," he said.

While with the Lakers, Hundley was able to reunite with his fellow WVU teammate, Jerry West. Hundley said they got to become "very good friends."

"We had a good team. If you didn't have a good team, it's not worth anything," he said.

By age 28, Hundley retired from the court and made his way into the broadcaster's booth. He did play-by-plays for first the Phoenix Suns and then the L.A. Lakers.

"I kind of jumped into it," he said.

But in 1974, he was hired to broadcast games for the Utah Jazz.

"It's a lot of fun for me. I had no pressure on me because I'm broadcasting the players, not me. If you make a mistake, I'll tell you about it, you know?"

During his time as a broadcaster, Hundley received a number of awards for his work. In 2003, Hundley received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And in 2004, he was inducted into the Utah Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Hundley retired in 2009 from the Jazz. In his honor, the Jazz dedicated its press room to Hundley.

But his biggest accomplishment has been receiving his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from WVU in 2000.

"That's one of the best things that ever happened to me," he said while noting he was looking at it hanging on his wall.



If you go

What: Lunch with Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley

When: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27

Where: Holiday Inn, Foxcroft Avenue, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Cost: $50 per person.

Contact: For tickets, call 304-260-4380, ext. 2410.

More: Part of the Chocolate Fest and Book Faire

All events in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va.



Chocolate Fest and Book Faire schedule

Friday, April 26

5:30 p.m. — Chocolates and Music, The Arts Center, 300 W. King St.

6 p.m. — Chocolate martinis, Whiskey Willie's, 127 E. King St.

7:30 p.m. — A Tasting and Pairing, DeFluri's Fine Chocolates 130 N. Queen St. Limited seating, cost $10. Proceeds donated Mainstreet Martinsburg. Must be 21 or older.



Saturday, April 27

10 a.m to 4 p.m. — Chocolate Walk, downtown. $5; free for those 4 and younger

0 a.m to 4 p.m. — WV Book Fair, downtown.

10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. — Chocolate tours, DeFluri's,

noon — Meet "Hot Rod" Hundley,  Holiday Inn, Foxcroft Avenue, Martinsburg, W.Va. Limited seating. $50. Call 304-260-4380, ext. 2410.

Through the day, Cupcake Contest, 1902 Building, corner of North Queen and East Martin streets

11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., "Willy Wonka," the movie, The Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St.

Admission is free.

For more information, go to www.mainstreetmartinsburg.com/chocolatefestival.php.

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