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 Jan. 5, 2023 edition of “BINGO: 3 Questions with Ralph Lawler,” our weekly question-and-answer exclusive.
1. Lately, with Kawhi Leonard back on more of a regular basis, it seems Ty Lue is “tinkering” more than usual with the rotation. Why do you think that’s seemingly equally important to outright winning games for him right now?
Kawhi’s presence and return to near normal minutes and quality of play raises the potential for the Clippers in a very dramatic fashion. He impacts the game BIG time at both ends of the court.
There seems to be some uncertainty over how much “small ball” benefits the team. It has been tough to tell for sure because of injuries. I do not think Coach Lue does anything that is equally or more important than winning. They will figure this out. This team has the potential to land the best record in the West. That would serve them well in the playoffs and that is why EVERY game is important.
2. While we are at the mid-way point of the season, are there any Clippers you think should be up for awards consideration? Ivica Zubac for Most Improved? Norman Powell for 6th Man? An All-NBA (Paul George) or All-Defensive team (Zubac or George)?
All those are worth rooting for if you are a Clipper fan, but I am really only concerned with this team doing everything possible to win the championship this year. Health is the most vital component. I still think the team needs to make a move either before the trade deadline or from the buyout market to add a back-up big man – ideally one who can stretch the floor a bit and switch on defense.
3. In Kawhi’s first season, there is a charming photo of the team on the charter flight during New Year’s Eve. Do you have any particularly fond memories about a new year’s celebration while on the road with the team?
Oh yes. We brought in the New Year twice at 35,000 feet while traveling with the team. It was joyful with champagne offered to one and all. We all had party hats and horns. It was great fun and I was doubly lucky because my Sweet Jo was traveling with me.
There were two other years when we were able to spend New Year’s Eve on Times Square in NYC. One year, temperatures were near 50 degrees and we celebrated long and hard with Bill and Lori Walton. Great memories!