Opinion

Hoops great Hundley left us with tales, laughs

Charleston Daily Mail file photo by The Associated Press  Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Byrant, right, greets Utah Jazz announcer Rod Hundley after the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 during Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles on Monday, April 27, 2009. Hundley was retiring after covering NBA games for 42 seasons.
Charleston Daily Mail file photo by The Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Byrant, right, greets Utah Jazz announcer Rod Hundley after the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 during Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles on Monday, April 27, 2009. Hundley was retiring after covering NBA games for 42 seasons.

A column by Chuck McGill, sports editor of the Charleston Daily Mail 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This was supposed to be a somber call, one of those inevitable and unenviable duties of a sportswriter.

The phone rang, Nemo Nearman picked up, and we began talking about the passing of Rod Hundley, who was nicknamed “Hot Rod.”

And then we laughed and laughed and laughed.

“I’m laughing about all the things he did that made him happy,” said Nearman, a Charleston native and one of Hundley’s oldest friends.

Make no mistake, there is great sadness about the loss of Hundley, who died Friday at the age of 80. But the clown prince of college basketball, the jester of the hardcourt, didn’t leave those who knew him with anything but fond memories. There might be such a thing as a bad shooting day, but in Hundley’s world, there were no bad days.

“Without any doubt he was a very upbeat personality,” said Bill Bertka, a longtime Los Angeles Lakers assistant who landed a gig with the organization in 1968 because of Hundley’s recommendation.

“He was very witty, and he lived life to the fullest.”

Hundley is a Charleston native who honed his hoops game at the downtown YMCA…

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