Invigorated Lawler to return
PHOENIX — Ralph Lawler went on KFWB 980 on Monday morning to announce the Clippers had signed a long-term contract with the radio station.
What the longtime television broadcaster didn’t say was whether he would continue to call games, but Clippers fans need not worry. Lawler told The Times on Tuesday he would return for the 2015-16 season, his 37th with the franchise.
Lawler, who turns 77 next week, said there were a handful of factors that prompted his decision to return. The Clippers are enjoying an unprecedented period of success that will include a record fourth consecutive playoff appearance and he feels appreciative of new ownership and management that held a Ralph Lawler Night at Staman Center earlier this season.
“It’s just really hard to turn and walk away from that,” Lawler said before the Clippers played the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night in their regular-season finale. “My wife and I love it, to begin with, and it’s pretty invigorating to think how good this team can be for a good long while now and I just think the organization is getting better and better.”
Lawler had a few health issues this season, including complications from kidney stone removal that forced him to miss a game in December and a bout of food poisoning that caused him to slur his words during a game in January. He said he would probably undergo hip replacement surgery in the off-season but said he otherwise felt good.
“My health is really good and that’s always the No. 1 factor,” Lawler said. “If your health isn’t good, work doesn’t mean much.”
Lawler credited owner Steve Ballmer and President Gillian Zucker for changing the environment around a franchise that was rocked last year by the Donald Sterling scandal.
“Thinking of where we were a year ago now and where we are now, it is beyond day and night,” Lawler said. “It’s really special.”
He works alone
Ballmer, who has a net worth of $20.8 billion according to Forbes.com, could probably afford to supply an analyst alongside Clippers radio play-by-play announcer Brian Sieman.
Here’s the thing: Sieman prefers working solo. He discovered that eight years ago in his first season with the Clippers.
“I had one in Minnesota when I was with the Timberwolves, loved working with a guy to bounce off ideas, especially in blowouts,” Sieples said of the benefits of having a partner. “But after that first year ended [with the Clippers], I was just kind of like, I’m happy going solo.
“There’s not as much time between plays [in radio versus television] for me to say what happened, give you the score and then turn it over to the analyst to give you why it happened. But that’s not to say it can’t work, that’s not to say I wouldn’t do whatever I could to make it work, but if they wanted it, I would be happy with it.
“I am happy with the way it is right now, though.”
Clippers backup guard Austin Rivers was inactive for the game against the Suns because of a sinus infection.