Growing up, it was always Tom Hanneman on TV. While watching the Minnesota Timberwolves wasn’t always easy, Hanny’s soothing voice always made you feel like you had a friend, even if it was through the screen.
It was announced on Friday that Hanneman had passed away. Few details have been released as of this publication.
There wasn’t much of a difference between Hanneman the announcer and Hanneman the person. As an announcer, he was so incredibly talented regardless if it was as a play-by-play guy or an in-studio analyst. If you got the sense that behind all of that talent was a really good person, you’d be selling him short. Behind all of that talent was the best person.
When I was an intern in 2013 with the Timberwolves, one of the first people I met in the media dining room was Tom Hanneman. Already nervous, I wasn’t about to introduce myself to someone like Tom Hanneman. No chance.
Instead, Hanneman, as calm as can be, came up to me and said, “You must be Kyle. I’m Tom Hanneman.”
He shook my hand and I remember just staring at the ground.
“Like yeah. You’re Tom Freaking Hanneman. I know. I’ve been watching you since I was seven years old,” I thought to myself.
That was the highlight of my conversation with my parents that night.
“You’ll never believe how nice Tom Hanneman is. . . Yeah, THAT Tom Hanneman!”
There was no ego. Hanneman never acted like he was a big shot, even though he had every right to.
And my story isn’t unique. Look on Twitter. There are countless other stories of this happening. This is not something that people of Hanneman’s stature do. But Hanny was different.
Sometimes, someone’s talent can overshadow a not-so-great personality. For Hanneman, people will remember his personality and kindness more than his talent, but don’t you forget: Hanneman was really damn talented.
This news was a complete gut punch and so incredibly sad for so many people. That speaks to just how special Tom was as a person.
Rest in peace, Hanny. We’ll miss your soothing voice that made cold nights in Minnesota feel a little warmer. More than anything, though, we’ll miss a great person who always lifted others up.