Revenge of the Monkey Boy

Sports-talk radio host Scott Hastings is riding the Broncos—and his wild image—all the way to the bank.

But while he listens as Jim on a cell phone says the team's poor performance isn't all Griese's fault and Pete in Boulder tries to heap blame on a defense that isn't stepping up, Hastings doesn't seem truly engaged. "I don't think I could do five days a week on who should be playing quarterback," he later admits.

He seems happier when bantering with Wargin, who gives as good as she gets and isn't afraid to work blue (or maybe light blue) when the subject turns to, for example, the prospect of her breasts leaking after she gives birth. "If that happens on the air, I'm going to have a little problem paying attention to the show," Hastings declares.

Still, the talk stops far short of the chortling sexual specificity that's a staple of many morning radio shows, and it's leavened by a fondness for -- believe it or not -- old-fashioned virtues. As seven o'clock nears, Hastings shares an anecdote about his oldest daughter being mildly ashamed to have him in the same high school football stadium with her, then casually asks if Wargin and her husband would like to join him and his clan at the next game. She agrees, and after she and Hastings sign off for the evening, she calls Mike and makes the necessary arrangements while Hastings puts his feet up on the counter and spits into his cup. "That's me," he says. "Just your average family man."

Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
David Rehor
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.

If this claim is a little off base, it's only because Hastings's background is more Leave It to Beaver-esque than most folks in the Nineties can manage. Hastings lives in a sprawling south-suburban home with his three kids (ages six to fourteen), a cat that he's somewhat embarrassed to admit is named Princess, and the personable, athletic Judy, who was his high school sweetheart. "We went to all the proms together," she says. "I actually asked him out the first time. It was a dance where the girls had to get a date, so I invited him."

"It was October 28, 1976," Hastings interjects, without the slightest hesitation.

In that regard, they've lasted longer than Hastings's own parents, who split up when Scott was twelve. But he and his two younger brothers got along fine with the principal/Episcopal minister his schoolteacher mom later married, and he depicts his school years as trauma-free thanks to Judy and a group of friends with whom he played every sport imaginable. His height made him best suited to basketball, and he went from helping Independence High win the Kansas state championship to an impressive run with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. He was widely expected to be one of the first fifteen players chosen in the 1982 NBA draft, but that wasn't the way it worked out. He and Judy were flown to New York along with the year's other top prospects, yet every team in the first round passed him by -- making him the only player present to suffer such a fate. "That night, they put us up in this hotel where our view was a brick wall all covered with soot," Hastings remembers, "and Judy says, 'I don't care who you get drafted by, and I'll be happy anywhere, as long as it's not here.'" The next day he became a second-round selection of the New York Knicks. "It's lucky they didn't have a camera on [Judy]," Hastings says, "because they would have seen her just bawling away."

Scott and Judy weren't in a New York state of mind for long. In February 1983, during the All-Star break, Hastings was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged seventeen minutes a game during his first season before suffering a knee injury, and by the time he returned, the Hawks had thrown their lot in with a new draftee, Kevin Willis, making Hastings the odd man out. Nevertheless, he stuck around Atlanta until 1988, when he was picked up by the new Miami Heat franchise in the expansion draft. After suffering through a season in which the Heat won just 15 of 82 games, he signed as a free agent with the Detroit Pistons. The team, built around unimpeachable talents like Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and rough-and-tumble types such as Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman (just prior to his wedding-dress stage) promptly won its second consecutive NBA championship, with Hastings contributing a grand total of one point and one rebound per game. The next year, the Pistons' performance fell off for reasons that Hastings thinks may also be affecting the Broncos this year. "After the Pistons won again, a lot of the intensity was gone," he says. "Everybody was thinking so much about endorsement deals and that sort of thing that sometimes the last thing on people's minds was playing."

Following the 1991 season, Hastings was traded to the Denver Nuggets, but, as usual, he mainly collected splinters on his posterior. Yet Dan Issel, who coached the 1992 Nuggets and is back at the helm again this year, denies that Hastings was dead wood. They played against each other in the Eighties, and although Issel isn't sure that Hastings is the last person he dunked on, as Hastings contends, he says, "That might be right -- because if there's anybody I could have dunked on, it would be Scott." But he notes that when Hastings was with Denver, he played hard when called upon and worked behind the scenes with former Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo and others to sharpen their skills. "I think Scott would be the first one to tell you he wasn't the most talented player in the NBA," Issel says. "But with his size and his knowledge of the game, he was able to stick around, and he really helped the young players on our team understand how to act and be professional. He was very valuable in that role."

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