Sizzling Rod Hundley was an important basketball participant, a legendary sportscaster — and an unbelievably unhealthy husband and father.
That’s the difficult portrayal of the late Rod Hundley in “Sizzling Rod,” a brand new documentary concerning the longtime broadcast voice of the Utah Jazz who was one of the recognizable folks in Utah, and arguably, one of the common.
“Sizzling Rod,” which airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and midnight on ATTSN, profiles a life crammed with contrasts.
• A legendary participant in West Virginia; a legendary broadcaster in Utah. A cheerful-go-lucky man whose upbringing was like one thing out of a Dickens novel.
• A much-loved determine to the Jazz trustworthy whose ingesting and womanizing destroyed his household.
“His life is nearly exhausting to grasp,” says CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, who partnered with Hundley on Jazz broadcasts within the early 1980s.
“He was so actual,” Dan Lohmann, the director/producer/editor of “Sizzling Rod,” advised The Salt Lake Tribune. “That was simply the best way he was. And there was no facade concerning the man.
“However behind the scenes, there was this complicated character who struggled together with his household life and had numerous issues happening — numerous stuff folks didn’t learn about.”
The revelations embrace that Hundley lived other than his spouse and daughters from 1976 on. His daughters — Kimberly, Jacquie and Jennifer — are interviewed within the documentary, and Lohmann admitted he was shocked at how frank they had been.
“We didn’t know the place it was going to go,” Lohmann mentioned. “Loads of these tales that got here out — we had no thought about them.”
It’s clear that Kimberly, Jacquie and Jennifer Hundley cherished their father — they reconciled with him as adults — however they don’t maintain again about him. And Sizzling Rod himself admits, “I used to be a horrible father.”
He wasn’t exaggerating. Kimberly Hundley remembers using the college bus in Phoenix when she was 9 and, “all the youngsters had been chanting the final title of the girl that he was having an affair with.”
The opposite lady had daughters in lessons with two of Hundley’s daughters, and she or he advised them to unfold the phrase that she was “relationship” Sizzling Rod.
“And I simply needed to sit there, like, attempting to not cry until I might get off the bus,” Kimberly Hundley mentioned. When she advised her father what occurred, “He mentioned, ‘You’re a liar,’ and he slapped me.”
“It sounds silly, however I believe that’s after I truly let all of it go,” she mentioned.
That’s not the one startling story in “Sizzling Rod.” Hundley’s childhood was unimaginably harsh. His father deserted him; his mom was compelled to depart him with digital strangers; Rod was overwhelmed and abused as a toddler. He grew up with out a lot in the best way of steering or love.
There’s a heartbreaking section in “Sizzling Rod” — a well-done animated re-creation of the struggles his mom went by way of in her personal phrases (taken from Invoice Libby’s biography of Hundley, “Clown”).
“As an alternative of simply saying, ‘Sizzling Rod was introduced up on the hard-scrabble streets of Charleston, W.Va., and was handed round as a child’ — you get a significantly better appreciation for why he was like he was,” Lohmann mentioned.
Viewers in Utah will likely be amazed by the clips of Hundley as a participant. In highschool and faculty, he was a phenom — an unimaginable ball-handler and scorer who lived to entertain the followers within the stands.
“He might have been a Globetrotter,” says Craig Bolerjack, the Jazz’s present TV play-by-play announcer.
Hundley was the No. 1 decide within the 1957 NBA draft, and, after a disappointing professional profession, he transitioned into broadcasting. He landed a job doing play-by-play for the New Orleans Jazz in 1974 and remained with the crew when it moved to Utah in 1979. He was behind the mic till his retirement in 2010 — three,051 video games later.
The West Virginia elements of the documentary will likely be a revelation to many Utahns; the Utah elements of this system are a revelation to many West Virginians.
“Sizzling Rod was a lot larger in Utah than we knew right here in West Virginia,” Lohmann mentioned. “And we didn’t know if folks on the market had sufficient of an appreciation of how large he was again right here in West Virginia. We wished to attach these two sides so we might give an appreciation to each fanbases.”
“Sizzling Rod” is crammed with outdated clips, house films and dozens of interviews with nationwide sportscasters; ex-Jazz coaches Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan; Utah sportscasters Bolerjack and Ron Boone; NBA legend Jerry West; former Suns proprietor Jerry Colangelo; and former Tribune Jazz beat author Steve Luhm — simply to call just a few.
Lohmann mentioned it wasn’t troublesome to get all of them on board. “Everyone was keen to speak about Sizzling Rod. I believe that claims rather a lot about him, as a result of he meant rather a lot to folks.”
“Everyone preferred him,” Musburger says — despite the fact that Hundley by no means picked up a test, a matter of a lot amusement to his pals.
“Sizzling Rod” doesn’t maintain again a lot, though there’s no point out of Hundley’s 2002 drunk-driving arrest. However the focus isn’t on his faults — they had been simply a part of who he was.
There’s rather a lot to giggle about within the documentary. There are surprises. And there are elements that can choke you up, from that horrible childhood to the Alzheimer’s that robbed Hundley of who he was earlier than he died in 2015 at age 80.
“Sizzling Rod” is the story of a larger-than-life determine who grew to become a part of the material of Utah.
“It at all times amazed me that he ought to finish his profession in Mormon nation,” Enberg says. “I can’t consider anybody farther from the Mormon ideas and faith than Sizzling Rod Hundley.”
Hundley cherished basketball, West Virginia, the Jazz and his household — in his personal peculiar approach. “Sizzling Rod” exhibits us a man who was much more fascinating than the one we thought we knew from radio and TV.