Announcing the 2010-2011 Starting Lineup (press play)
By Sissi Aguila ’99, MA ’08 – South Florida sports fans know the voice and his trademark introduction, â€œAaaannnnd noooowwww staaaand up and make some nooooise for your Miiiamiiii HEEEAAAT!â€
As the public address announcer for the Miami Heat since 1990, FIU business graduate Michael Baiamonte ’86 has called the plays for many of the NBA’s biggest stars â€“ Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and now LeBron James and Chris Bosh. He was the voice in the arena when the HEAT clinched the 2006 NBA Championship. And in 2010 he introduced â€œThe Three Kings,â€ as Wade, Bosh and James have been dubbed, to an arena full of fans anxious for another championship.
Baiamonte is one of South Florida’s most recognizable announcers, receiving national recognition when USA Today referred to his â€œGoooooood Mourning!â€ call for an Alonzo Mourning dunk as, â€œThe best call by a Public Address Announcer.â€
Now in his 20th season with the HEAT, Baiamonte’s career as a sportscaster started more than 30 years ago when he filled out his application to attend FIU.
â€œI had to write what I was most proud of,â€ says Baiamonte, a Lifetime Member of the Alumni Association. â€œI’d asked the principal at my high school, Gulliver Prep, if we could get an announcer for the basketball games. He said, â€˜Sure, you can do it.’ So I did.â€
Now retired, assistant athletic director for media relations Rich Kelch was FIU’s sports information director then. Kelch was looking for an announcer for the new basketball team and came across the application. He called Baiamonte and said, â€œYou’re our guy.â€
Baiamonte became the official voice of the FIU Sunblazers, who didn’t have an arena yet, announcing play-by-play at local high schools and the James L. Knight Center.
â€œNothing about it made sense,â€ says Baiamonte of the games played at the James L. Knight Center. â€œThere was a fancy foyer and the audience sat on one side. It was crazy, but I loved it. I got to meet people who would eventually give me my big breaks.â€
An early break was working with the World Wrestling Federation and its CEO Vince McMahon for two years throughout Miami and Palm Beach. Baiamonte continued to attend school and announce FIU games while with the Federation.
After graduating with the university’s first four-year class, Baiamonte went to work for FIU Trustee R. Kirk Landon at American Bankers Insurance Group. At night, he continued as the voice of the Sunblazers.
Because of his connections at the James L. Knight Center, Baiamonte was called to announce an NBA exhibition game there. The NBA was considering starting a team in Miami. He became a back-up announcer in the ’90s after substituting one night during a HEAT-Seattle SuperSonics game.
â€œWhen they called me to go down there, I was scared to death,â€ recalls Baiamonte. â€œI felt like I needed an oxygen mask.â€
A few years later, he became the official announcer for the Miami HEAT. In 1993, Baiamonte left FIU after 12 years.
â€œI didn’t want to leave,â€ he says. â€œBut my time was taken up with my day job, the HEAT, and I was emceeing more and more special events.â€
In 1999, Baiamonte finally quit his day job in corporate America too. â€œIt got to the point that I was out of the office a couple days a week,â€ he says.
â€œI was lucky,â€ says Baiamonte. â€œMy kids were born outside of the HEAT’s season.â€ His wife Natalie went into labor with oldest, Arissa, 16, during an exhibition game. Baiamonte now has three teenage girls: Janae, Ilana, and Arissa.
Baiamonte has a studio at home where he does voiceovers and commercials for several clients, including Brandsmart USA, Mercedes-Benz and Nike. He emcees special events throughout South Florida, such as the Miami Children’s Hospital Diamond Ball. He returned to FIU last fall when he emceed the football home opener against Rutgers.
But on HEAT game days, he spends the morning learning the script and brushing up on the players from both teams, while trying not to talk too much.
Baiamonte says as a kid he was always drawn to the announcer in the arena. â€œI really enjoy entertaining the fans,â€ he adds. â€œThat give â€“ back and forth â€“ is what I love.â€
Source: FIU Magazine