Ok...folks first all I can not explain this...why Hot Rod Hundley came to my mind about four A.M. this morning...but he did.
Some where in my junior or senior year in high school the Minneapolis Lakers came to Terre Haute, Indiana to play an exhibition game at the old Indiana State gymnasium. Yes, they later became the Los Angles Lakers. It was a big deal for a lot of reasons. One was two of the "local boys who made good" would be playing. Local boys from Terre Haute, Clyde Lovellette, Garfield High School and Bobby Leonard, Gerstmeyer High School. Indiana fame. Yes I was there. But for me one of the guys I wanted most to see was this guy I had heard and read about in all my basketball magazines who was from West Virginia fame, Rod Hundley.
We had read where in the West Virginia- Kentucky high school all stars game he had scored 45 points. In his early college career he had scored more than 40 points in six games in the same season, once scoring 54 points in a game. (Keep on mind no three point baskets back then)
But we also had heard about his reputation for various floor antics he might do. Hook shots and the all "don't you dare do it" behind the back passes he would often throw. He once had the opportunity to set a scoring record with two free throws in the final seconds of a game and what does he do? He shoots one of the free throws with a hook shot and the other a behind-the-back shot. Both missed. Maybe that's where Ron Felling got his idea. Only local knowledge will understand that line.
I still remember where I sat that night and my search for Hundley. I don't remember a lot about the game but I do remember one thing. He pleased the crowd when leading a fast break....yes...you got it...he did a behind the back pass to Leonard for the lay-up. Atta boy...Hot Rod ole number 33.
The next night in my high school basketball practice in doing the old three man weave--every coach and kid who has played has done that drill----just for a moment in leading the weave I had the thought "how about the old behind the back pass right here and now?" Knowing my coach...quickly..... I thought better.
Now Hundley was no clown. He was the real deal. He was the fourth in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points and he did it in three years as freshman were not eligible for varsity play. Too bad present day Kentucky. Hundley went on to play in the NBA for six years. After his retirement Hundley became a broadcaster working a lot of games with Dick Enberg. He left the public eye due to Alzheimer's and died at the age of 80, March 27, 2015.
Again...I have no idea why Rod Hundley showed up in my early morning...hum...wonder who will show up in my thoughts tomorrow morning...hope it is a bit later...or earlier.
January 5, 2017