Broadcaster of the Week: Tom Hanneman
Posted Mar 30 2007 4:46PM
Sometimes the most difficult moments in life bring clarity. Twenty-nine years ago this May, while working as a television reporter in the Twin Cities I was convinced my life was about to end. I was covering a story in Northern Minnesota at the Red Lake Reservation. It was a bloody day, a day in which a teenage boy was killed by stray gunfire. My photographer and I were shot at and held hostage for a couple hours. I remember being forced to lie face down in the middle of a highway with a gun to my head. I was told Ė and I had no reason to believe otherwise Ė that this individual was going to blow my head off. He had already fired at us in our car, and later filled our camera equipment with bullets. The good Lord was smiling on me that day. With a little help we managed to escape. That incident and that day have affected the way I look at things and the way I have lived my life ever since. It gave me a clear perspective of what truly is important in life.
My path to the NBA was different than many play-by-play announcers. Out of college, I spent 16 years as a producer, reporter and anchor at WCCO TV in Minneapolis. In the summer of 1989, I took a job as a sideline reporter with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Eighteen years later, Iím lucky enough to still be around, working the last few seasons as the television play-by-play voice of the team. Along the way, I also had a chance to work as a studio host for four years with NBA RADIO broadcasting the NBA game of the week, the NBA All-Star game and the NBA Playoffs all the way through the NBA Finals. What a joy it was to be a part of, having the opportunity, for instance, to sit down and interview Magic Johnson prior to his unforgettable All-Star appearance in Orlando in 1992 or sitting courtside and witnessing pandemonium at Chicago Stadium after Michael Jordan and the Bulls celebrated another title. Iíve been extremely fortunate to be a part of some memorable moments and work with some very talented people including three analysts Ė the energetic Trent Tucker, the entertaining Mychal Thompson and the insightful Jim Petersen.
KEVIN HARLAN'S INFLUENCE
I spent nine seasons sitting alongside Kevin Harlan, the Timberwolves original voice. It was a delight. Kevin had the challenge of making an expansion team entertaining and compelling Ė even through all the lopsided losses. We had a great chemistry together, and more importantly, a great friendship. To keep things interesting in the early days of the franchise, Kevin and I were forced to be very creative. On many of the late night West Coast broadcasts, we didnít receive any calls from fans at halftime. That did not stop us from picking up a phone courtside and calling in with disguised voices ourselves, usually critical of the job we were doing. When it comes to play-by-play, Kevin has been my primary influence. This was not a job I coveted in the early years, but thanks to Kevinís help, itís a position I truly enjoy.
KEVIN GARNETT'S INFLUENCE
There have been many players who were instrumental in the development of this franchise. When you think of the Wolves, Ty Corbinís name doesnít jump off the page at you, but he was an important piece of the puzzle. Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter also brought veteran leadership and provided a stabilizing force for a young team. Sam and Terry helped mold Kevin Garnett in his early years, teaching by example what it meant to be a professional and how to handle the challenges that every player encounters.
The fate of this franchise forever changed in 1995. You can break down the Timberwolves history into two eras. Pre-Kevin Garnett and post-KG. Little did we know 12 years ago that this skinny teenager would become the face of the franchise.
People know Kevinís a great player. What they may not realize is that heís also a great guy. I remember Kevin walking into his first training camp at St. Cloud State with his ever present smile and endless enthusiasm, two traits he continues to carry. He also has a great love for children. I canít tell you how many times Kevin has lent his support to a charitable endeavor for kids. Heís done so many wonderful things that he doesnít want publicized. Iíve never known an athlete with a bigger heart. Iíve referred to him as the best player on the planet. Kevin Garnett most certainly is the most versatile, and I believe, the most consistent. Iíve never seen him take a night off.
Despite the problems the Timberwolves have encountered this season, the support of the fans has been phenomenal. People have stuck by this team. Much of that support is simply respect for the loyalty and hard work turned in by the Big Ticket.
Iíve been fortunate to be a part of almost every game the Timberwolves have ever played. I still look forward to every broadcast. Itís a thrill, I hope I never lose.
MY TOP WOLVES MOMENTS
May 19, 2004 Ė Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals
The most important win in our history. Kevin Garnett celebrated his 28th birthday with 32 points and 21 rebounds to clinch the series and propel the Wolves into the Western Conference Finals for the first time. This remains the signature game for Kevin Garnett. I donít remember the state of Minnesota being more excited about the NBA then it was that day.
April 30, 2004 Ė Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round
April 24, 2003 Ė Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round
December 5, 2003 Ė Timberwolves 112, Sacramento 109 in OT
December 30, 1997 Ė Timberwolves 99, Chicago 95
One of the most versatile and familiar voices in Minnesota sports broadcasting, Tom Hanneman returns for his 18th season of Timberwolves television broadcasts. Hanneman will serve as play-by-play announcer for all of the Wolves local network broadcasts.
Hanneman's talents have received nationwide exposure. In October 2005, Hanneman was honored by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Television Academy with a regional Emmy Award. The award came under the sports play-by-play category for his work on the Timberwolves telecasts on KSTC. He received a second regional Emmy Award as part of the winning group for the The Year That WasĒ series that aired on FSN North.
Hanneman worked four seasons as the studio host of NBA Radio, anchoring a 140-station network that featured All-Star Weekend, the NBA Game of the Week and expanded NBA playoff and draft coverage. Hanneman's NBA Radio work took him to Toronto to host the 1994 World Championship of Basketball for the network, and he hosted a weekly radio show for the BBC in London, in addition to broadcasts in Australia and New Zealand.
Hanneman was already familiar to Minnesota sports fans when he joined the Timberwolves broadcast team in 1989. For the previous 16 years, he was seen by Twin Citians as a news and sports reporter on WCCO-TV.
Born in La Crosse, Wis., Hanneman resides in Eden Prairie, Minn., along with his wife, Nancy, and their children, Adam, Courtney and Kyle.