Ralph Lawler, who retired from broadcasting as one of the all-time greats after the 2018-19 season, remains beloved by Clippers followers across the world. His longevity and talent made him as identifiable to fans as just about any player in team history. The Hall of Famer agreed to provide some personal insight into the season for The Sporting Tribune.
Here is the Dec. 9, 2022 edition of “BINGO: 3 Questions with Ralph Lawler,” our weekly question-and-answer exclusive.
1. The Clippers continue to deal with injury management as they progress into a more challenging part of their schedule. Whether it’s minutes restrictions for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and John Wall or some of the back-to-back rest, how much more of a challenge is that for the coaches and players to handle?
It is so difficult for both the coach and the players. Bill Walton was once limited to playing no more than 5 minutes in a stretch in the San Diego Clipper days. He’d just get feeling comfortable and it was time to remove him from the game. It was impossible. It’s the same thing today with the three players you mention. Each had stated that they want to play more, but the medical staff has prevailed, so far. I have no idea if they are being overly cautious, I just feel that, back in the day, all three would be playing 30+ minutes virtually every game.
Teams are acting like playing games on back-to-back nights is a huge burden for the players. The league used to have teams play three games in three nights. That never happens now and there was a time of playing four-straight nights or even five-straight! And that was before the luxury of charter air travel. I go through this in detail in my book “BINGO Forty Years in the NBA.” It is not just NBA players who are being treated so cautiously, Major League Baseball pitchers are asked to give 6 or 7 innings. A complete
9-inning performance is about as rare as the triple play.
2. At full strength, the Clippers tend to have 2-3 players who could be rotational depth on most teams, but are likely to receive DNP-CDs in LA. With 89% of the league becoming trade eligible on Dec. 15, do you think there needs to be some roster consolidation?
It will certainly be considered and weighed against the concern that injuries could continue to plague this team. The depth is needed if Leonard, George and Wall are in and out the rest of the way. If they are healthy, a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 swap could improve the team and ease the logjam that leaves worthy players on the bench.
3. The team is wrapping up its longest road trip of the season so far on Saturday, what were the top three NBA cities you enjoyed traveling to the most and why? (Note: Seattle, Vancouver, East Rutherford, etc. can be included as well)
The first thing I looked for when the schedule was released each off season was when we would be in New York and how many free nights we had to see shows on Broadway. After that, losing Seattle and Vancouver in exchange for OKC and Memphis was a bummer, for sure. We also looked forward to Miami and Chicago. Good food, places to walk and shop plus each city’s energy made NYC, Miami and Chicago the top stops for my Sweet Jo and me. Oh, and we did not miss East Rutherford when the Nets moved to Brooklyn.
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