He is known as The Voice.
Deep. Rumbling. Animated.
And, depending on your basketball loyalties and sensibilities, somewhat annoying too.
Increasingly, however, Michael Baiamonte has become The Face.
At least when it comes to Heat home games.
"For so many years I was just a voice behind a microphone," says Baiamonte, in his 21st season as the Heat's public-address announcer. "Now a lot of people recognize me by face."
That's because his repeated in-game pleas to "Stand UP …. and make some NOISE … for YOUR … Miami … Heaaaaattttttt!!!!" are accompanied by a closeup of his face on the Jumbotron.
It's been that way at least since the Heat's run to the 2006 NBA title, and national TV cameras have taken to showing him as well.
No wonder his phone and email have been burning up with requests to emcee weddings and Bar Mitzvahs at as much as $500 an appearance. That more than justifies his decision 11 years ago to quit his job training telemarketers for an insurance company.
Yet it's clear The Voice, with his willingness to straddle the line between announcing and cheerleading ("Let's Go Heat!"), has made his presence felt.Read the full article...
"The energy and the atmosphere at a game, every little bit helps, and Mike has that captivating voice," Heat forward James Jones says. "When you hear the fans clapping and cheering and making noise when the other team is trying to run sets, it can be a distraction for them and it can be a plus for us."
Baiamonte, 47, takes a showman's approach to his job, which he's held long enough to be one of the half dozen or so longest-tenured Heat employees.
"A big part of it is entertainment," he says. "You want to put on the best show you can."
Only a few PA announcers in the league have been at their post longer than The Voice, who grew up in South Florida and attended Gulliver Prep, where he also introduced the lineups before home basketball games.