Steve Holman matters.
He befriended me early on in my days as a season ticket holder in Atlanta, the first days of Philips Arena. Despite that he had been the Voice of the Hawks full-time on radio since 1989, Holman never thought twice about stopping and talking about the game and the team to me, and always made me feel as though I was tied into the team and to him. I was always flattered that he would even speak to me or give me any kind of time - and still am frankly -- given Holman's tremendous tenure, status and knowledge about the game and the Hawks.
Such an approach was and is nothing new for Holman, who approaches each broadcast with the mindset that he is working for the people, an approach that lends itself to charges of homerism.
"Being called a homer is OK to me," says Holman. "Hawks fans are my bosses and that's the way I call the game."
Nowhere was this more evident that when Holman made national news in the 2009 NBA Playoffs when the Hawks were engaged with the Miami Heat and Holman had some choice words for the play of Heat star Dwyane Wade, openly mocking the Heat star and calling the Heat out later for "thuggery".
Despite some of those emotional theatrics, Holman insists he never comes into the game rehearsed. ‘Serious, but without take it too seriously' can be fairly applied to Holman approach to the job and what leaves his mouth on the air, even in those emotional moments. Says Holman, "It just comes out."
Some of Holman's nicknames he gives players are spawned from those spur-of-the-moment calls. He has had "Spud-ly" for Spud Webb, "The Wittman Sampler" for Randy Wittman and most recently "The Hammer" for Ivan Johnson - an homage to Henry Aaron who played in Atlanta and wore the same #44 Johnson sports.
Holman has also taken to remembering his mentor and idol, the Celtics epic Johnny Most whom Holman started working with when he was 17 in Boston. Holman tributes Most on every broadcast when he announces that he's "courtside at (insert arena here) to do basketball battle" like Johnny did.
Holman also has used the expression ‘around the perimeter' as a symbol of Atlanta's infamous I-285 which wraps around the city.
It's the sort of thing that has endeared Holman to Hawks fans, some of whom have grown up to listen to Holman from being a youth in Atlanta up through to the pros.
"It's like a family," says Holman. "The local guys, (they) come up and say they've been listening to me since they were kids."
One such kid is the Hawks' own Josh Smith, whose dad made him listen to games (with Holman on the mike) in the car and now Holman calls Smith's own games.
Since being made the sole broadcaster in 1989, Holman hasn't missed a game, a streak that has carried over 1900 games and is the longest among radio-only broadcasters in the NBA.
Holman was also recently inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, voted in by his peers, and as far as how long Holman wants to do this job, now in his 27th season in total, he declares as long as he is healthy, he's good to go for quite a while more.
"Chick (Hearn-legendary Lakers announcer) went until he was 86," affirms Holman, who despite his many years of experience is only 58 years old. "(Al) McCoy in Phoenix is 78, Joe Tait was 73 when he quit."
No matter how long he goes on for, count on plenty of smart, witty broadcasting from Holman, along with plenty of Hawks-centric commentary and emotion.
And we wouldn't want it any other way. Thank you, Steve.