Famed Los Angeles Clippers’ announcer Ralph Lawler is retiring following this season after 40 years with the team, and his final game will see them team him up again with long-time friend and former broadcast partner Bill Walton. Lawler and Walton worked together on Clippers’ broadcasts from 1990-2002, and they’ll call the Clippers’ final game this season (April 10 against the Utah Jazz) on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
And that’s just part of the Clippers’ “Ralph Lawler Night”; here’s more detail on what they have planned from their release.
The Clippers will honor Lawler’s 40 years as the “Voice of the Clippers” throughout the game and a halftime ceremony featuring special guests and tributes will celebrate his storied career. The Clippers will also unveil a logo honoring Lawler on the court at STAPLES Center and Clippers players will wear a special shooting shirt thanking him for his years of service.
The first 10,000 fans at the game on Ralph Lawler Night will receive Ralph Lawler bobbleheads, presented by CarMax. The bobbleheads will recite Lawlerisms at the push of a button, including Lawler’s Law, “Bingo!,” “Oh me, oh my!” and “The lob, the jam!” and feature Lawler sitting at a desk, holding his preferred stick microphone.
Lawler, who will retire at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, will call his 3,229th Clippers game on Ralph Lawler Night. He was named a 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award recipient by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at All-Star Weekend and over the course of his 40 seasons, he has also been awarded with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Emmys, a Telly Award and inductions into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters (SCSB) Hall of Fame and the California Sports Hall of Fame. This season he was also honored with the Television Play-by-Play Award by the SCSB and the California Sportscaster of the Year honor by the National Sports Media Association. A native of Peoria, Illinois, Lawler has distinguished himself as one of the broadcasting industry’s elite, as he is one of a very few announcers who has called games in each of the four major U.S. Sports Leagues: NFL (Chargers), MLB (Phillies), NHL (Flyers) and NBA (Clippers and 76ers).
Lawler has broadcast most Clippers’ games since their 1978 move from Buffalo to San Diego (they’d move again to Los Angeles in 1984), with 1981-82 and 1984-85 the only seasons where he wasn’t their primary play-by-play broadcaster. So he called plenty of Walton’s games as a player (Walton played for the Clippers from 1979-85) before working with him in the broadcast booth later.
In a video Fox Sports West put out last month as part of their “Ralph Remembers” series (featuring Lawler looking back on various elements of his career), featuring Lawler discussing Walton’s Clippers’ career, he said Walton “stands out above the others” when it comes to Clippers’ players, coaches, executives and broadcast partners:
It’s cool to see the Clippers honoring an announcing legend like Lawler this way and giving him a proper sendoff. Bringing Walton back for one last game with Lawler is a neat move, too, and that fits with the group of guest announcers they’ve paired Lawler with this year, including Billy Crystal, Hubie Brown, Mike Fratello, and Cheryl Miller. And if it’s anything like Walton’s usual broadcasts, this should be a trip.