TAMPA, Fla. - He can make Steven Stamkos, Shaquille O'Neal, and Martin St. Louis sound like even bigger stars than they already are. He can take names you can't pronounce and make them unforgettable. Names like Hedo Turkelugh, Nikola Vusevic, and Vladislav Namestnikov.
When Paul Porter takes the mic, no one forgets.
"It's a rush for me to hear that crowd erupting, because I know I am making people happy."
He's been getting that rush for 27 years with the Lightning, and 31 years with the Orlando Magic.
"The biggest difference [in basketball] is you are saying something almost every trip up and down the court."
Porter's view from next to the ice at Amalie Arena.
That he's heard live in the arena – instead of on the radio – is by chance.
After working for the Cleveland Cavs in the early 1980s on radio, he'd been doing minor league basketball for the Tampa Bay Thrillers.
But he wanted to be back into the bigtime.
"I felt that I was good enough," Porter said. "I felt I had the skill level to be with the top basketball players in the world."
So in 1989, he applied for two jobs with the newly formed Magic: Play-by-play and public address.
How could it have been any other way?
Porter calls a Magic game at Amway Center.
"Someone once told me, and I will never forget it: You are the voice of excitement."
In 1992, a PR executive from Tampa Bay's new hockey team agreed.
He never imagined he'd still be doing this 3,000 games later.
He's the only full time public address announcer either team has ever had.
He never loses sight of who he is, or what they want on game night.
"I think (the arena) should be a happy place. Where you can come, forget about the worst of the day, forget about your troubles – trying to pay the mortgage, and trying to find money for the electric bill – and just come and relax and have fun."
His work does take work. He goes over unfamiliar names every night.
"I want to make sure I get it right out of respect to the players."
Goal announcements are coordinated with off-ice officials.
And most importantly, he plays a game of trial and error: What do the fans respond to?
"[For Nikola Vusevic of the Magic] I did the ‘Vuuuu-cevich,’ and I could hear the crowd around me going ‘Vuuuuuuu.’"
When he hears the crowd after he says the Lightning's Steven Stamkos by annunciating the STAMMMMMM in Stamkos, or the KUUUUUUUU for Nikita Kucherov, he can hear his dream becoming reality.
The fans are into the moment, thanks to him.
"I have never scored a goal, never made a basket, but I feel like I am a part of the game," he said. "I get the crowd going; the crowd gets the players going."
This spring, he will announce his 3,000th game: 1,650 for the Magic, 1,350 for the Lightning.