In­vig­o­rated Lawler to re­turn

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Ben Bolch ben.bolch@la­times.com Twit­ter: @latb­bolch

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.”

Rivers out

Clip­pers backup guard Austin Rivers was in­ac­tive for the game against the Suns be­cause of a si­nus in­fec­tion.

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