In the final moments of the Atlanta Hawks’ game with the Washington Wizards on Friday night, we once again heard why Steve Holman is the best sports announcer in this state.
“No basket. Game over. Hawks win. The Atlanta Hawks have defeated the Washington Wizards. As the great Paul Pierce would say, ‘Series!’ It’s over, and the Atlanta Hawks have made history folks. The Atlanta Hawks will go to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in history. Paul Pierce had the ball still in his hands at the end, and we call ‘Series’ on Paul Pierce. Series!”
Holman has been an announcer for the Hawks for 30 years. He’s not a big name, like Larry Munson or Pete Van Wieren, since basketball is not a sport for radio like football and baseball. But Holman is a tremendous broadcaster, and good broadcasters usually shine when their teams do well.
There’s little doubt Holman has shined all season. As the Hawks set a record with 60 regular-season wins, Holman had even more excitement in his voice. He has enjoyed this season as much as the players have, and it has been reflected in his broadcasts.
Holman got into the business as an assistant to legendary NBA voice Johnny Most, who was the Boston Celtics’ play-by-play man for decades. If you ever heard an old audio clip of Most, you probably thought you were listening to the Munson of basketball. Most was a homer. The Celtics were his Celtics.
There is no doubt the Hawks are Holman’s Hawks. You can tell in the tone of Holman’s voice how well the Hawks are doing. And after 30 years, he has sounded down and out plenty of times. He has suffered through plenty of horrible seasons, so you must feel great for Holman now that his Hawks are going to play in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in history.
He’s the Cal Ripken Jr. of NBA announcers, as he has broadcast more than 2,250 consecutive games. But the games he has on his schedule for the next two weeks perhaps will be the most important of his great career. The Hawks will be doing something they’ve never done before, and Holman will be right there with them.
For years, Skip Caray was the voice of the Hawks. Caray is more remembered for his work with the Braves, but he was a great basketball announcer. John Sterling, now the voice of the New York Yankees, was also very good in the 1980s. Even now, Bob Rathbun is as solid as they come for a TV announcer for the Hawks.
But Holman has been the anchor. He has outlasted owners, coaches and players. He should be appreciated more for his dedication, his tenure and his enthusiasm and especially his talent. We should feel lucky to have such a talented broadcaster as the voice of the Hawks.
Perhaps it’s time to do what many did when Munson was around. Maybe it’s time we all find Holman on the radio and turn the volume down on the TV. Holman is that good. And this is when we need to hear the Hawks’ voice at his very best.
And maybe, just maybe, there will be a few more legendary playoff calls left for Holman during the next few weeks.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.