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Archive for the ‘Utah Jazz’ Category

Hot Rod Hundley transcribed, ex. 2

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

More vintage play-by-play from the late Hot Rod Hundley, the voice of the Jazz and the man whose presence on the staff kept their nickname relevant. On December 20, 1986, Utah returned to the scene of Darrell Griffith’s big game against Chicago, where he’d scored 41 points on March 9, 1985. This time, though, it was Mark Eaton’s turn for a big game. He was supposed to be sitting out with the flu but instead checked in with a dominant performance.

Green left corner to Tripucka. Three pointer? No – he drives to base left. Underneath to Big Mark, try to go up for the shot and he’s fouled. [Craig Bolerjack talking]

Left to Gene Banks, former Duke University star. Banks guarded by Tripucka, now to Paxson left corner, Waiters sets a screen. Eaton comes over. Reverse shot blocked by Eaton, picked up by Hansen!

Rebound to Oakley, downcourt to John Paxson. Paxson right side to Banks. He’ll go back to Jordan. Drive in to Eaton, tried to reverse it.

[Bolerjack talking] There’s Tripucka, down low to Eaton. Mark across the middle with a left handed hook, it’s good! The Big Fella! He has four points and the Jazz take the lead!

Jordan right with him, Green with the ball. Ricky left to right. He’ll take it in the right corner to Bob Hansen. Low to Eaton, good position for the hook. No, he turns for the jumper – bank it in! It counts and he’s fouled! That’s six points for Mark Eaton!

Four buckets and the Jazz have the three point lead. Michael Jordan down the right side. He’ll go up top to Charles Oakley, drive by Malone, and Eaton is there to block it! What a play by Big Mark!

Green looks in, takes it low to Tripucka. Up top to the Mailman, five seconds for a shot, inside to Big Mark, a left hook, good! Mark Eaton with 9 points! Incredible! The best he’s ever played in his life! In a period of less than eight minutes, and he wasn’t even supposed to play!

Jordan right to left, Eaton intimidates, pass off Oakley out of bounds! Jazz ball!

…the corner. Two years ago Griffith had 41 against Jordan here. Here’s Bailey for the layup, right side, good! Big T!

And he knocks it away and steals. Great play by Jordan. He leads his team in steals. Jordan down the right side to Paxson.  Another jumper from 18. It’s up – no good. Rebound underneath: Brad Sellers.  Blocked by Eaton. They call a foul.

…find Elston Turner up top to Dave Corzine, looks back door, now finds it over to Steve Coulter, Coulter free throw line to Mike Brown, jumper blocked by Eaton! Grabbed by Bailey…

…to Jordan, he does. Jordan guarded by Griffith, they isolate him. Jordan drives, Eaton is there. He forces it up! Air ball! Corzine’s got it, double pump blocked by Eaton! What a play by Big Mark! And it goes out of bounds – Jazz basketball! [Bolerjack talking] Unbelieveable by Eaton, intimidates Jordan to force up an airball, and then he blocks Corzine’s shot.

He’s set up by the base by Bailey. Here’s Eaton, low right. Mark back to Griff. Three pointer from the parking lot on the way. Yes!

Jordan brings it down, hands it back, Jordan left to right, spin down the middle. Eaton is there, blocks it easily!

Faking left, taking it right, Paxson with him, John over the right corner to Hansen, right and left to the paint, underneath to Big Mark. Nice feed. Mark has it knocked away and we’ve got a foul. Beautiful…

Paxson wide right to Michael Jordan. He’ll fake left, go right to the base. Hansen stays with him. Jordan cuts the corner, drive under, reverse it, no good – never got iron. Picked up by Oakley, his shot blocked by Eaton!

Sending down to Granville Waiters, Waiters cross court to Michael Jordan, drive the alley, Eaton there to intimidate, underneath to Waiters, and a three second lane violation. And the presence of Mark Eaton again stopped the two point play.

Michael Jordan – reverse shot wildly up there, tipped by Corzine, no good. Rebound Corzine, Eaton makes him eat it. Picked up by Malone down court to Green. What a play by Eaton – intimidating Jordan again and then he blocked Corzine!

Off balance lay up no good – again Eaton intimidated. Rebound to Corzine and he passes off.

[Bolerjack talking] Paxson up top with the ball. He’ll swing left to Michael Jordan. Inside Oakley. Perfect position for the ball. Take it to the hoop. Eaton swats it down! It goes to Corzine, underneath to Sellers. He puts it up – shot around the rim no good. Eaton rebounds! Mark doing an outstanding job for Utah!

Coulter hippity hops front court straightaway. Stockton with him. Behind the back dribble – Eaton is there to block it and Banks saves it on the court to Corzine but he stepped out of bounds. Jazz basketball!

And Sloan’s number hangs high in the rafters here – a retired jersey. Here’s Stockton underneath to Big Mark. Slam dunk! Eaton with twelve points for Utah!

Parallel to the line, he’ll take it left-to-right to the free throw line. Terminates right side to Big T. Thurl backs it out low to Big Mark. Eaton hands back to Bailey – beautiful feed – slam dunk! Thurl down the middle

To Bailey low to Malone – bad pass! Never even looked. Knocked away! Malone gets it back! Fall away jumper left side – no good. Eaton knocks it down, picks it up, takes a little lay up, scores!

Jordan has 24. Down low Malone to Green out front. Seven point Chicago lead. Here’s Malone left-to-right, underhand layup no good. Eaton tips it in!

…Hansen, Jordan hands it out top to Paxson, Paxson down low inside Banks, blocked by Eaton! It’s knocked free and the Jazz come up with it! Bobby Hansen! 38 seconds left in the game!

[Bolerjack talking up Eaton’s numbers]

Now it sets the scene for Chicago to win it – if they get a bucket – possibly win it. [Bolerjack] Here we go. All right! Banks out front to Corzine. Jazz a game group hanging in there. Corzine dribbles left side. Low to Jordan. Eaton tries to help. Eaton knocks it away! Bailey’s got it! Bailey’s got it! We’ve got a foul and there’s six seconds left!

Here’s Bailey to guard the inbound play on Banks. Banks holds on. They bring it out front. There’s Elston Turner. He takes an off balance jumper – it’s no good! Tipped out of bounds! It’s over! The Jazz win the game! The Jazz win the game! Great defense! Oh baby! That’s five out of six on the road and the Jazz on this trip have won three out of four and they win their 16th against 8 losses!

Hot Rod Hundley Transcribed, Ex. 1

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

This clip shows Utah Jazz guard Darrell Griffith having a big 40-point night on March 9, 1985, on the road vs. Chicago. This was from Griffith’s best season and he’d never be the same after hurting his foot and riding the bench for ’85-’86. Also having a great night, though – as he did every night the Jazz played – was play-by-play announcer Hot Rod Hundley, the heart and soul of the organization. As I’ve mentioned before, if his musical patter ever came out on record, I’d listen to it. If it ever got transcribed and published, I’d also read it.

My first exercise in transcribing Hot Rod (you can follow along):

Stockton to the left corner to Darrell Griffith. Griff fake right, go left, over the base, underhand shovel, good! Beautiful move.

All right, ball stolen by Griffith, and David [Ennis] Whatley threw it away. Watch this one – slam dunk! Reverse! Darrell Griffith!

Fred Roberts rebounds. Down court to Griff. Griffith takes it in over Oldham, slam dunk! The Golden Griff!

All right, Utah with the ball. Stockton hurries down the middle. Right side to the Golden Griff. Backs his way in. Fake right, turn left. Hook it up wildly and it goes in! Oh, what a shot by Darrell Griffith!

Jazz on the run. Griff down the middle. Griff behind the back. Alley oop! It goes, it counts, he’s fouled! Oh my goodness! Darrell Griffith.

Darrell Griffith. Take that! In your face, Mama, and lay it in! Darrell Griffith.

Woolridge with 14. 64-62. Right side, Griffith! A three-pointer from the parking lot! Darrell Griffith from Section J!

Again to Griffith. Darrell fakes right, go left, he’s down the middle, runnin’ up underhanded, scores! The Golden Griff!

Down the left side to Franchise [Hot Rod’s nickname for Jeff Wilkins]. Back to Griffith, two minutes left. Griffith drives the paint, slam dunk! In your face, take that one! The Golden Griff!

Hot Rod Hundley was the “Jazz” in Utah

Friday, March 27th, 2015


Non-Salt Lakers don’t understand why the “Jazz” monicker stuck when their basketball team moved in from New Orleans. If they ever listened to Hot Rod Hundley do play by play, though, they’d know that the team had to be called that as long as he was on board. He was the very best – hands down. His verbal skills behind the microphone matched his physical skills as a ball player on the court: elastic, playful, and always entertaining. (He was the perfect voice to put the visual experience of kindred spirit “Pistol” Pete Maravich into words during the New Orleans years.) Every motion on the court crackled off Hot Rod’s tongue in real time with phrases like “yoyo back,” “hippity hop” and “belt high dribble” and when the Jazz won, they’d “put the game in the ol’ refrigerator.” Hot Rod Hundley was music, and if I had recordings of every game he called I would listen to all of them on road trips.

Song ID: Kool and the Gang – “Celebration” (1980)

Thursday, March 17th, 2011


A book idea I have is to take a quasi familiar, cultural wallpaper song like this and interview 500 people to get quick vignettes or anecdotes about what they were doing when they first heard it. “Celebration,” for me, long before it became a wedding standard or Erik Estrada strutted to it on CHiPs, was this:

In Salt Lake City, during the first two seasons after the New Orleans Jazz had relocated, you could get courtside tickets at the Salt Palace for $12. I saw more live basketball during 1979-81 than I would for the rest of my life. My friends and I would go early and watch the teams warm up before introductions. Before a Jazz-Pacers game in November 1980, we observed Rickey Green and John “Bay Bay” Duren doing ad lib dance steps to it as it thumped from the speakers and we had no idea what it was. Then we noticed two of the Pacers (Kenny Natt? Johnny Davis?) doing the same thing. The scene reinforces itself every time I hear this song, decades-running.

Kool and the Gang – “Celebration” (1980)

Chuck Culpepper, Bloody Confused: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer (2007)

Friday, February 5th, 2010


I started following the English Premiership habitually in the early 2000s for precisely the opposite reason why US sportswriter Chuck Culpepper did, as chronicled in his Bloody Confused. I needed a break from partisanship. A diehard Utah Jazz fan then as now, I was still smarting from our two championship losses in a row at the hands of Captain Underpants. Having played a good bit of soccer in my day and already a tad anglophilic, the Premiership offered a wide expanse of history and drama that I could take in dispassionately and enjoy from afar, stress-free.

Have you ever watched an entire soccer game on, say, the Fox Soccer Network? It’s positively soothing – two separate 45 minute-plus segments of uninterrupted action. Here in the US it’s all about stops and starts and jarring, noisy commercial breaks that jackhammer themselves into our brains during every TV viewing of any of our big 3 sports. It ought to give you a headache and I worry about you if it doesn’t. (Face it, Super Bowl hypemeisters – even the greatest, most expensive and inventive commercials imaginable are best when nonexistent. Because they’re commercials.)

Culpepper, on the contrary, a burned out American sportswriter, sick of all the canned and cliché-ridden interviews, big money corruption at the lowest of levels, steroid millionaires attributing touchdowns and home runs to the Almighty, and, yes, the ice-cold impartiality that sportswriters are expected to develop, is yearning to rediscover the heartbeat in good old fashioned, devoted sports spectatorship. So he moves to England, where thick-skinned fan loyalty runs rampant and where sports culture has gotten a centuries-long head start.

He then launches a season-long quest for a team to support, by the end of which he’s become a true-blue “Up Pompey” fan of Porstmouth FC (bless his heart – have you seen the tables lately?). In so doing, he’s able to talk about all kinds of little details that American followers of the Premiership will likely appreciate most. (Just about any other book you’ll read about Euro soccer, including Nick Hornby’s seminal Fever Pitch, takes cultural familiarity with the sport and its historical checkpoints for granted.)

These details include: fan behavior (focused reticence alternating with song bursts, as well as a wholehearted willingness to hug total strangers); the profanity-laden group sings; the train rides; the fan rivalries (hardly the hooligan horror show, nowadays, we’re led to believe over here); the inability to get a ticket for key matches if you don’t have a “buying history”; what it’s like to visit Old Trafford — England’s Yankee stadium and home of Manchester United — as well as Plainmoor, home of League Two’s Torquay United (League Two is actually the name of the fourth-tiered league); and what drives fans in a league with no NFL-style parity and where the same four teams usually win it all over and over again (answers: the relegation system and DNA, among other things).

Speaking of DNA, Culpepper’s willingness to openly shop for a team in a land where team loyalty is involuntarily inscribed at birth in said DNA is amusing. In one scene he tells some Newcastle supporters, who are essentially England’s long-suffering Cub fans, how he’d once been on the verge of “picking” their team for his own. Their words upon parting: “It’s not a choice.” Being a Jazz fan who’d likely change team support, if I only could, to some perennial championship contender like the odious Lakers, but knows it’s impossible, this resonated with me.

His reasons for going along with Portsmouth, though, are believable, and I, for one, didn’t find myself second guessing his eventual allegiance. His reasons: A certain indefinable charm and personal attraction, along with good rapport with Porstmouth fans he found himself crossing paths with often, including a likeable guy who dresses up in a blue bear outfit before every game. Now what’s not to like about that? And Culpepper’s description of the euphoria and agony true fans are supposed to feel are convincing. He’s associated himself with the club in a way that will have readers wondering how Culpepper felt about the team’s highly improbable FA Cup victory in 2008 (you can find out here, actually) as well as their current financial traumas and residence in last place.

Portsmouth, in fact, if things don’t change soon, are looking at relegation at the end of this season. This is an aggravating but wonderful system in British soccer (and pretty much everywhere else but here) where teams that finish the season in the last three slots get dumped to a lower league while the three top teams from that lower league get promoted. It adds a whole new dramatic “playing for safety” element to a season that’s an altogether foreign concept to Americans. I can testify of the relegation system’s power because it’s responsible for bringing me down from my once-blissful state of Premiership impartiality.

I’d started keeping my eye on the small London club Fulham FC when they promoted to the Premiership in 2001 – the first time ever since their formation in 1879. They were a long time favorite of a European friend of mine and their every success made me think of how much I knew it pleased him. Then I found myself taking an irresistible shine to this relatively humble and easily ignored team that plays at a charming stadium on the River Thames called Craven Cottage, in honor of the centuries-old hunting lodge that’s a stadium fixture. The team’s nickname, thus, is the “Cottagers,” one rivaled only by Everton’s “Toffees” in instant charm.

Anyway, I started getting that unmistakeable feeling of personal investment during the turbulent 2007-08 season, when, by season’s end, it looked like Fulham’s basement habit would be bringing their Premiership run to a close. With three games left, they faced certain relegation barring a rare surge of good fortune. Incredibly, they won the first two of those last three games, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory at Manchester City. On the last day of the season, though, they still had big trouble, with Reading and Birmingham City, their two basement rivals, having already won. If they lost their last game against, ahem, Portsmouth, or even drew, they were going down. If they won, they’d barely – I mean barely – survive.

Well, they won that final away game with a Danny Murphy header in the 76th minute, and I’ve never come down from that now-legendary “Great Escape.” Fulham may have escaped relegation, but I did not, having de-evolutionized to the type of person who mutters expletives during moments like the present when Fulham struggles with key soccer concepts like scoring goals, and who nonetheless plans inevitable pilgrimages to Craven Cottage, even if the club were to someday find itself in League Two. And while my high-minded, dispassionate era was kinda pleasant while it lasted, my response to Bloody Confused and Culpepper’s immersion in fandom was ultimately one of envy, and although he writes that it’s “hard being a fan,” my own experience tells me that it’s harder, apparently, not to be one.

Fulham’s “Great Escape,” featuring Jimmy Bullard, Danny Murphy, Brian McBride and Roy Hodgson as The Magic Manager.