LOS ANGELES— As he enters his 40th season as the “Voice of the Clippers,” legendary broadcaster Ralph Lawler announced his plan to retire following the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Over the course of his tenure, his commentary has captivated fans across the sports world, creating a legacy that will last far beyond his final season.
“My wife Jo and I have grappled with this decision annually for 15 years. 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, 80, joined the then San Diego Clippers in the team’s first year in California, 1978, where he spent six years before moving with the Clippers to Los Angeles. Since then, he has called more than 3,100 games. 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).
“Ralph Lawler isn’t just the voice of the team, he has been the heart and soul of the Clippers,” said Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “Ralph has lived every single moment with this team and been an essential connection between us and our fans, who rightfully adore him. We will treasure every moment with Ralph and his wife Jo this season, and miss him incredibly next year. I’m looking forward to celebrating Ralph and his legacy, and want to sincerely thank him for everything that he has done for and meant to this team. His will be large shoes to fill.”
Lawler’s commitment to his craft has been recognized with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Emmys, a Telly Award and inductions into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the California Sports Hall of Fame. Lawler’s extensive resume dates to his high school days in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois, where he first started calling games.
Over the past decades, he has invented numerous “Lawler-isms” that have become a fixture in Clippers broadcasts and across the NBA. Fans watching Clippers games expect to hear a number of his catchphrases, including “Bingo!” for made three-pointers, or his signature, “Oh Me, Oh My” after highlight plays. Throughout the league, his colleagues frequently reference “Lawler’s Law,” which states that the team that reaches 100 points first will win the game.
“The ‘Voice of the Clippers’ for 40 seasons and one of the league’s longest-tenured broadcasters, Ralph has called some of the most iconic moments in Clippers’ and NBA history,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “His distinct broadcasting style, highlighted by Lawler’s Law and other hallmark ‘Lawler-isms’, has earned him respect and admiration from NBA fans everywhere. We wish Ralph continued success in his final NBA season and thank him for his incredible commitment and dedication to NBA basketball.”
The impact that Lawler has had on the Clippers organization and the broadcasting community is immeasurable. He has been a steady figure that has guided the team and its fans for decades. As the Clippers, and broadcast partner Prime Ticket, commemorate Lawler’s final season, he will be celebrated at home games all year long.
Lawler’s closest friends and colleagues from across his career will be joining him as his broadcast partner for special games throughout the season, with longtime broadcast partner Bill Walton headlining the list. Lawler will call all Clippers games produced by Prime Ticket/FOX Sports San Diego during this final season.
The Clippers will conclude the regular season by hosting Ralph Lawler Night at Staples Center on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. vs. the Utah Jazz. The first 10,000 fans at the game will receive Ralph Lawler bobbleheads and the evening will feature special guests, ceremonies and a celebration of Lawler’s career. Fans can visit the new Instagram page honoring Lawler (@Ralph) to reflect on his storied career and share their favorite Lawler memories.
Attribution: Los Angeles Clippers