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Clippers news: Staples Center set for emotional night in Ralph Lawler’s final regular season broadcast

Ralph Lawler, Doc Rivers, Clippers

LOS ANGELES – Much to the dismay of L.A. Clippers fans everywhere, Ralph Lawler’s final regular season broadcast has
finally arrived. After 40 years as the broadcaster of the Clippers franchise and 3,228 games, the Hall-of-Famer will be calling game number 3,229 on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz. The night is expected to be emotional, to say the very least.

“It should be,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “It should be. I hope all the fans know. I don’t read a lot, so I don’t know… I’m assuming there’s been something written about it. But I hope we make as big of a deal of it as it should be. I guess is the best way to do that.”

The Clippers will be honoring Lawler all night long, starting well before the game when they’ll be unveiling a logo on the Staples Center hardwood. In addition to that, the Clippers players will wear a special shooting shirt that says, ‘Thank You, Ralph!’ thanking him for his years of service.

Fans can also sign a giant card ‘Thank You, Ralph!’ card outside of Staples Center before the game. The first 10,000 fans to arrive will receive a limited edition bobblehead as well, one that recites three of Lawler’s well-known catchphrases: ‘Bingo!,’ ‘Oh me, oh my!’ and ‘The lob, the jam!’

Lawler is one of the few broadcasters to have called games in each of the four major sports leagues in the United States. He called Chargers games in the NFL, Phillies games in the MLB, Flyers games in the NHL, and Clippers as well as Sixers games in the NBA.

Before the season even kicked off, Lawler announced his decision to retire at the culmination of his 40th season.

“My wife Jo and I have grappled with this decision annually for 15 years,” said Lawler. “I now realize that I have spent half of my 80 years as a part of this team. The Clippers are a big part of my life’s DNA,” said Lawler. “Yet, it is important that we have some ‘life after basketball.’ The current ownership and management team has been so supportive, and we are forever grateful for our years with the Clippers. I cannot express how much I appreciate the fans. I am looking forward to thanking as many of them as possible in person during this final season.”

Lawler’s season was widely expected to conclude in the regular season, but the Clippers have surprised everyone but themselves in earning a playoff spot and giving the team’s braodcaster a few extra games to call before calling it a career.

“I think the best gift we’ve given Ralph this year is the gift of extra games, you know?” said Rivers. “I would say before the year, maybe even Ralph thought tonight would be his last game. And the fact that he’s going to be be able to do more games I think is pretty cool and I think the players have given him one hell of a gift. And that’s the gift of extra games.”

It’s been great, it’s been great. I’ve had the honor of working with him twice – I guess I wasn’t working with him when I was a player, but I was working with him. I loved him when he was calling my games, loved him when he was calling the games as a coach. We’ve always honored, and we look at Ralph as a teammate, not a guy that covers the games. I mean, he’s been that good with us and loyal, the guys love him, you know. And he’s done his profession as well as anyone can ever do a profession. You know?”

Rivers spent one year with Lawler as a player during the 1991-92 season, and spent the last six seasons with him as the coach of the Clippers. They’ve had their share of memories together, including the most recent one: a celebration of Lawler on the Clippers flight home from Oakland.

“Oh geez, I have a lot of them,” Rivers said when asked about his memories of Lawler. “Mine are more personal, just the things more this year; the other night, watching his reaction to the cake, watching his surprise party we threw for him in Milwaukee. What I love about Ralph is how invested he is in the team, though, like, at the games, or during the broadcast, the next day when we do our little coach’s show, he worries, I mean, he’s always into it. I don’t think he just does the job, he does the job because he wants the team to do well.

“He’s an absolute Hall of Famer — if he wrote a book, when you think about it, he’s seen a lot of stuff. Good and a lot bad. But he absolutely has an amazing story to tell and it’ll be interesting.”

Throughout the year, Ralph has received a number of messages from players around the league, including former Clippers. Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, who was part of the best run this franchise has ever seen, had this to say to Ralph.

“We’re gonna miss you big time! Love you man. That, ‘Bingo!’ and, ‘Oh me oh my!’ You and your wife are two of my favorite people in the entire world. You said you were retiring for years, but you stayed. I was with LeBron James the other night, we were watching the Clippers-Rockets game, and he was talking about how much he loved to hear you on air. Just know that you’re well respected. I hate to see you go, but much love to you Ralph!”

This season, Ralph Lawler was named a 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award recipient by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Throughout his 40 seasons with the Clippers, he’s been awarded with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Emmys, a Telly Award, and even inductions into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters (SCSB) Hall of Fame as well as the California Sports Hall of Fame.

The Clippers and Jazz will tip off at 7:30 PM PST, with a special halftime ceremony to honor Ralph Lawler.