Ralph Lawler interview
Ralph Lawler is the legendary voice of Los Angeles Clippers basketball and has covering the team since 1978. Known for catchphrases such as "Lawler's Law" (first team to 100 wins), "Bingo," "Oh Me, Oh My" and "Fasten your seatbelts, gang," InsideHoops.com met with Lawler on Wednesday in Madison Square garden for an exclusive interview following LA's 140-135 overtime thriller over the Knicks.
InsideHoops.com: What is the origin of Lawler's Law?
Ralph Lawler: "As the case with so many things, it's not original
at all. I stole it from a guy named Al Domenico, who
was a long ago trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers. I
had been doing Sixer games back in the 1970s, back
in their heydey when they went to the finals in 1977
and Al was the trainer.
"In those days everybody scored 100 points. Here in
New York, it's pretty common now but around the league
it's not that common but Al used to always say 'I'm telling
you first team to 100 always wins'. When I started with the
Clippers in San Diego in 1978, I thought maybe I'll steal
that from him and make it alliterative and Lawler's Law
kind of worked, so I used it a few times and began to hear
it back from fans around the league and (I said) 'oh this
works' and every city I go to now, the people quote it - it's
InsideHoops.com: How did you get to be the voice of the Clippers?
Lawler: I worked in San Diego before doing Charger games,
so I had friends in San Diego when the team moved from
Buffalo to San Diego, the fellow that hired me for the
Chargers was the general manager of the basketball team.
So he made me an offer that I couldn't refuse.
InsideHoops.com: What have been some of the highlights of broadcasting
Lawler: Without question, it goes back to 1992. Larry Brown
was the ballclub's coach and in the middle of the playoffs
against the Utah Jazz, LA was hit with the Rodney King riots
and shut down the city for four days, postponed the playoffs
and the Jazz were kind of stranded in Los Angeles. They couldn't
even get home, curfew at night and they finally revived the series,
moved the game to Anaheim, which is about 40 miles south of LA.
"On a Sunday afternoon, all of a sudden a cloud lifted over the
city. People could go out and have fun and the Clippers defeated
the Jazz in an exciting game and forced the fifth and final game
of the playoffs the following day in Salt Lake City.
"There haven't been enough highlights for this ballclub. But
a game like tonight is a highlight. It was a lot of fun. You never
know from night to night when something really exciting is going to
happen. It's a great sport and I love it."
InsideHoops.com: What's your favorite city to visit?
Lawler: "I'm in it right now. I love the theater and
saw Billy Elliot last night. It's the first thing
I check on the schedule - when do we go to New York.
InsideHoops.com: How did you come up with some of your other sayings?
Lawler: "You say something and it feels good. People
say I love it when you say "Oh Me, Oh My" and I
say really. So pretty soon, you're saying it and
"Bingo" for the three-point shot.
"We had Bobby "Bingo" Smith from the Cavaliers, was
traded the Clippers in 1979-80 - the first year of the
three-point shot in our league, so that was pretty
much the birth of that.
InsideHoops.com: What is the feeling of being recognized worldwide
and throughout the country by NBA fans due to things
like the internet and league pass?
Lawler: "It's always nice when someone appreciates your work.
We don't go into it for that but when somebody says,
I watch you guys and I enjoy watching the games, of
course you're pleased.