Steve Holman received his third straight Gabby Award earlier this week, an award given by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters to recognize the best sports play-by-play broadcaster.Holman was also inducted into the GAB Hall of Fame earlier this year for his 32 seasons on the radio covering NBA Basketball and the 1996 Olympics. Being honored by his peers gives Holman a sense of pride.
“It’s always nice to get any kind of award like that,” Holman said. “It’s pretty much voted on by your peers. Those are always my favorite things to win. You’re being saluted by people that are in the same business that you’re in. It’s very prestigious that Georgia Association of Broadcasters. I was honor earlier this year to go into their hall of fame too. It’s been a good year for stuff like that.”
Now at the age of 63, Holman is considered one of Atlanta’s most accomplished broadcasting figures. Holman’s vision of success in the world of Sports Journalism began as a 8 year old in Massachusetts. He never envisioned to reach the accolades bestowed upon him during his illustrious career. Holman wanted to be like his idol, Johnny Most. Most was the raspy voice of Boston Celtics basketball from 1953-1990.
Holman knew after listening to Most call some of the great Boston Celtics teams during the 1970’s and wanted to embark on the same experience, not as a member of the Celtics, but as the voice calling some of the great moments for a NBA Franchise in the future. Holman’s destiny was to embark in the world of Sports Broadcasting.
“I think I knew from the time when I was about eight years old that was what I wanted to do,” Holman said. “The first time I heard Johnny Most on the radio, I just thought that was so cool. I thought at that point, I’d like to do this. I wanted to be in broadcasting in some way, shape or form and ultimately get to do basketball which is want I wanted to do and to do an NBA team. Doing the Hawks for so long, though it may sound like a cliché it’s a dream come true. It’s something that I’m thankful for every day.”
Holman’s dream paid off due to the hard work and determination instilled as a child, he would find idols to study and eventually developed his own craft which earned him a chance to work with the local commentators. At the age of 17, Holman earned the opportunity to work for another individual who was a role model on his journey, Curt Gowdy. Gowdy was well known as the longtime “voice” of the Boston Red Sox and for his coverage of many nationally televised sporting events, primarily for NBC Sports in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Holman credits Gowdy’s guidance early in his career as a launching pad.
|Current Hawks radio voice Steve Holman poses as a teenager with Johnny Most, the legendary voice of the Celtics. (Chris Vivlamore- AJC.com)|
“It was a thrill, because I had grown up (in Massachusetts) and he did the Red Sox’s games when I was a kid and he was famous, he did everything,” Holman said. “There was a stretch there in the 70’s and early 80’s where he called Super Bowls, called the World Series, covered College Basketball Championships, the Wide World of Sports, he did everything. He was the king of the hill at that time. For me to work for him, it was a great thrill. He was very supportive and really helped me get to where I am now.”
A few years later, Holman earned the opportunity to work on the network which his hero, Johnny Most, covered Celtics games, in a entry level position for WCCM. Years after having the vision of working for the NBA, here he was working with the man whom inspired his journey from the age of 8 years old. Most and Holman bonded over the next few months, earning him the opportunity to keep the score during Celtics games; however, that would change one night in November 1976.
Most was calling the Celtics game until the Third Quarter when he lost his voice during a live broadcast, giving Holman a chance to finish the broadcast for the current game. Imagine this…. The biggest opportunity of his life was given to him by the man he wanted to emulate as a child. Holman took the opportunity and never looked back.
|Steve Holman with Dominque Wilkins (AJC.com)|
During our interview, Holman reminisced on the early days with Most saying “Johnny Most, I
used to keep score for him when I got a job at the radio station and I got a pass to go to the Celtics’ game and I introduced myself to Johnny (Most) and eventually he trusted me enough to keep score for him, get his coffee, cigarettes,” Holman said. “There was a night in 1976, in early November early in the season the Celtics were playing against the Denver Nuggets and he lost his voice early in the third quarter and he handed me the microphone and off I went through the rest of that game. Then I did more games for the next couple of weeks. One thing led to another and I got a job at the CBS station in Boston from that and then made my way to Atlanta because the program director at that station in Boston came to Atlanta to start WGST back a couple years ago.”
As he enters his 33rd season as the “voice of the Atlanta Hawks”, Holman has covered 2,417 consecutive Hawks games. He shared the duties with John Sterling before he joined the New York Yankees broadcast team in 1989, taking his actual streak to much higher numbers.
Holman takes pride in his profession. His father was a craftsman. Holman watched his father work at a job on a daily basis which wasn’t appealing to him. Holman was instilled with the mentality, even at a young age, to give 100% on a daily basis, especially when it’s for a job that he enjoys more than anything, covering the Atlanta Hawks. Every game brings more excitement for Holman and every broadcast presented another adventure.
“I’m very proud of it,” Holman said. “It’s one of those things that I don’t know how many people are following or really care. But it’s something that kind of prideful to me because my dad was a craftsman. He really didn’t enjoy his work, but he went every day. That was one of the things he instilled in me, was that you go to work every day. If he could go to work every day at a job he didn’t care for, I had a job that I love, there’s certainly no reason for me to show up every day and bring the passion and do the best job that I can do every game. That’s why I try to look at every game no matter if it’s a playoff game, an Eastern Conference game, or the second game of the season or a Wednesday night in January. I look at every game as an adventure and something I look forward to broadcasting every night.”
With over 30+ years of experience, Holman hasn’t considered slowing down,
“I want to do it as long as they let me,” Holman said. “There are a lot of guys in the league that don’t retire. They just go until they drop pretty much… I really have no plans to stop and as long as god willing I can still do it every night I want to do it as long as they’ll let me. I feel good, I work out every day, I do 4 miles on the treadmill. I’m probably in better shape now than when I was 43. I feel good and I love it.”
Steve Holman’s 2,000th Consecutive Game Ceremony
The Atlanta Hawks are a major part of Holman’s successful career in the world of sports and he considered the organization as a member of his extended family. No one wants to leave their family. The players, coaches, the fans, the season ticket holders, Holman feels the connection with through the years of the Hawks struggling to win games, the resurgence of the franchise, the peak of the franchise in the Dominque Wilkins’ years, and the relationships built with people that filled the stands of the Omni and now, Phillips Arena, on a nightly basis.
“The Hawks’ family is my second family for sure,” Holman said. “Hawks fans too are like family to me too. For all these years there a lot of people I see at the games every night that are season ticket people and we’ve watched our kids grow up together. A lot of us have grandchildren now together. It’s just a terrific thing and I’m looking forward to next year when we hit the 50-year anniversary of the team being in Atlanta. That’s going to be a special time and to be a part of it as long as I have it’s been very special.”
As the 2017-18 NBA season is less than two months away, True Believers know where to find Holman during the nights of October to April, he’ll be with his Hawks family, remaining “True to Atlanta”.