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Clippers Honor Ralph Lawler

After 36 years as the broadcasting voice of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ralph Lawler was honored by the team with #LawlerNight and March 9th was officially declared “Ralph Lawler Day” by the city of L.A.

On hand to honor the man who has been through thick and thin with the Clippers was his broadcast partner Mike Smith, as well as a number of former Clippers players.

City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. presented Lawler with a framed proclamation officially recognizing “Ralph Lawler Day.”

“I’m just thrilled that you’re all here. I’ve always felt that I work for the fans,” commented Lawler showing the genuine class that has endeared him to Clipper fans everywhere as well as colleagues in the  media.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this, I just show up for work every day. It’s MY pleasure believe me. Thank you all so much.”

—Ralph Lawler

In addition to the halftime celebration, several key media personnel provided video recorded messages for their estemeed colleague, including the voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully.

Several current Clippers players, as well as head coach Doc Rivers also provided congratulatory messages for Ralph in the form of videos.

Although the Clippers organization took it upon themselves to acknowledge an outstanding man who takes his craft seriously, as much now as he 36 years ago, the celebration felt somewhat incomplete, or at least rushed.

That’s not to say that the Clippers don’t appreciate Ralph, rather that the occasion—if it was going to be promoted heavily and made out to be a special event—lacked the oomph of class that such an outstanding tenure truly deserved (especially when you consider the multiple decades of truly abysmal basketball that Ralph has had to call).

Although Ralph received a framed jersey, as Petros from the Petros and Money Show pointed out on the 3/10 broadcast, Lawler has received framed jerseys from the previous owner of the Clippers. At the very least, the Clippers could have and probably should have retired the honorary jersey Lawler received.

[Ralph Lawler] is the only Clipper who deserves to have his jersey retired. — Doc Rivers

Every fan in attendance also received a commemorative shirt with Lawlerisms printed on the front and back.

Clippers gave out commemorative shirts on #LawlerNight.

He’s the Tommy Hinesohn (Celtics broadcaster) of the Clippers. When you have a guy that’s been in the organization his whole career and has given his life to an organization, you should pay him respects.

—Doc Rivers

Regardless of how the event turned out, congratulations to Ralph Lawler: an outstanding personality in LA Sports and the NBA at large. May destiny favor the future for a broadcaster who has professionally kept afloat despite the many decades without true success by the team he covers so passionately.

Hopefully in the near future he’ll get the best tribute of all: to be able to make his iconic bingos, oh me oh my, and the lob, the jam! calls in an NBA finals series for the Clippers.

Ralph Lawler Night - Clippers

Oh Me Oh My Shirt - Clippers

Ralph Lawler Day - Clippers

Blake Griffin: Leveling Up

In the ongoing discussion focused around Blake Griffin and just how good he may or may not be, I present exhibit “A” (originally a gif, but it was taking too long to load so just click play; you won’t regret it):

Besides LeBron James, what other big guy comes even remotely close to being able to do this? THAT’s a POWER forward!

Seerat Sohi and Zach Lowe recently put up a couple of great pieces at ClipperBlog and Grantland respectively. You should check them out to get an expanded, and well-written breakdown of what makes Blake Griffin a special player.

As for my thoughts on the matter, well, they’re a little biased seeing as how I root for the Clippers. In spite of that, however, what cannot be taken away is the amount of progress that we’re seeing from Blake – improved shooting and free-throw percentage, increased handles, smarter decisions while airborne and a maturity of the desire to win above all else.

I left the following comment on Seerat’s piece, so instead of re-writing it here, I thought I’d just quote myself—that’s right, quote myself. #DontHate

…Blake Griffin, has shown tremendous improvement in key areas that afflicted his effectiveness last season, especially as of late.

In addition to an ever-improving midrange shot and Crawfordesque handles, Blake has begun to focus on defenders’ weaknesses instead of relying merely on his strengths. In exploiting those weakness, whether they emanate from a defender’s lack of speed, strength or IQ, Blake is transcending beyond just a highlight player.

Griffin even implemented the scoop into his game this season. More often than not he’s finishing plays with a finger-roll instead of violently attempting to throw it down while we hold our breaths.

As bummed as I was to see Chris Paul go down, it’s allowed the development of Griffin even more. Big ups to the young man! May he develop that Swiss army knife of skills even more!


It’s like the beast is finally self-aware. Not only will you be immortalized if you get in his way after takeoff, now you run the risk of looking silly and lost if he’s running the point.

How do you feel about Blake Griffin’s improvements? Are you still a hater? Or do you think he could one day occupy the title of “Best Power Forward in the game”?  Sound off!

Clippers: Preseason Highlights 2013

If you’re wondering what makes the Clippers so much fun to watch—especially if you refuse to watch them just on principle—make sure you give this compilation of preseason highlights a shot.

This edition of Clips Session is an appetizer-sized serving of wonderful lobs to Blake Griffin, Chris Paul hesitation steps, and newly found defensive athleticism by DeAndre Jordan (“Blocked by DeAndre” could very well become my new favorite phrase for this upcoming season).

Video production credit: @MaxaMillion711. We look forward to many more of these throughout the Clippers 2013-2014 season. Big ups!

Count it, #andthefoul!

Banner Cover-Up 2013 – Let the Clippers be the Clippers

I read somewhere that the nature of civilizations supplanting each other often involves the necessary and calculated destruction of a place’s previous identity.

Without a blank slate, a new civilization puts itself at risk of those with memories rising up in the name of the old guard. Books especially are enemies of the new state. Anything that evokes sentiments, whether visual, literary, or oral, must be controlled and done away with.

I imagine that’s what it must be like when you’re a championship pedigree coach taking over a franchise that has long lived under the shadow of a more successful, older brother that occupies the same household. The memories of the past must completely be erased so that your new squad can fully harness their talents around an identity that diametrically opposes history.

A transformation that began with the arrival of Blake Griffin, sprouted with the addition of Chris Paul and now looks towards blossoming under tutelage from a bona fide coach, Doc Rivers. The Clippers have finally built themselves into a legitimate contender in the West, and with this new identity comes a new set of responsibilities that extend to the arena these Clippers play in.

With a new sense of purpose and direction, the Clippers recently decided that it was in their best interest to make their shared arena home games feel more like home games by installing Clippers posters over the hallowed Lakers championships banners hanging from Staples Center (an egregious act of arrogance worthy of utmost condemnation, at least according to Lakers Nation).

Chris Paul & Doc Rivers - ClippersThe culture is changing, and we want to be a winner. To do that, we have to make changes, and the one at Staples Center is one that I thought we needed to make. We don’t leave the Lakers floor down, do we? And they don’t play on the Clippers floor; they take it up. That’s all.


It’s no disrespect. I have an amazing amount of respect for the Lakers. Having said that, I work for the Clippers, and when we play, it should be the Clippers’ arena. I would say they probably feel the same way when they play. That’s all it is.
Doc Rivers

That anybody would dare cover up their precious banners could not be overlooked, especially when the culprit is ascending while the proud franchise struggles to keep players healthy. Mouths were agape and just as rapidly shut and turned into a vehicle of invective as Lakers fans failed to comprehend the logic behind this “disrespectful” move.

The current of disdain ran fierce through the fan base and was fortified by the reactions of players like Nick Young—the vanguard of the banner cause (never mind that he has yet to play an official regular season game in a Lakers uniform).

“He can do that? For real? That’s disrespectful. We got to talk to Doc. He can’t have that. We got to do something about that.
Nick Young

Even some members of the LA media expressed their dismay with ripples of discontentment:

With all due respect to Ms. Shelburne, someone who I very much admire as a writer and as a reporter, the legacies of those men are in no way tarnished, nor do they disappear, just because the Clippers cover them up on any given night.  Nor will this take away any of the numerous championships the Lakers currently possess—Lakers Nation’s most admirable feature, after all, is their clockwork mentions of just how many championships they’ve won (how many was it again?).

There were, however, a few sensible people, including another Lakers player by the name of Steve Nash, that showed common sense bordering on lunacy after having heard the news:

I guess if you were in the Clippers’ organization you probably want to do that, too. It’s their arena on their night, so I would try to make it feel like home.
Steve Nash

The Clippers are entitled to do as they see fit when it’s their night in the arena. That covering up the banners feels as deeply insulting as it does for some who act out with rage only puts emphasis on how much some fans use these banners as a symbol of justification for their sense of entitlement and their bad attitude towards others; yes, I think that’s the part I hate the most about the banners dialogue.

Aside from that, I will admit that this seemingly harmless event has left me amused because of the extent to which this action upsets some Lakers fans, including some of my very own personal friends.

These banners have been shoved in our face for so long, and now without warning, they’ve been temporarily undressed for what they truly are: objects that can easily disappear.

Take a deep breath, Lakers fans, count to 10 and then take umbrage in the fact that even if you can’t see them, they’re still there and everybody knows it. TWC’s Francisco Pinto broke it down best (in Spanish and English no less):

The fact of the matter is, we can’t control what these teams do and don’t do. They’re both rightful tenants of alternating nights at the downtown hoops dojo. While the prestige of championships past carry clout in NBA circles, they don’t exactly pay Staples Centers bills for that other team.

Regardless of how much they’re hidden from the public eye, those banners will always shine through. We all know they’re there. So – as my dear friend Nacho Libre would say – mucho take it easy, Lakers… relax and let the Clippers be the Clippers.

Count it! #andthefoul

Why I Tweet About The Lakers and The Clippers

On the eve of the 2013-2014 NBA season, I find myself at a sort of bizarre crossroads that I had long expected and that I wished to avoid, not so much for the nature of the situation, rather because it would force me to write—that dreadful and lovable activity which controls my subconscious for most of the day.

Being a fan of sports is an interesting thing. To put oneself through the emotional investment of fanhood is irrational at times. We look towards sports as entertainment, an outlet where we can forget about our worries and troubles, and yet, if we devote enough of ourselves to it, it takes on a life of its own and we’re left to reconcile another level of reality, principles and problems: sports principles and problems.

A little history…

I fell in love with the NBA in the early 90s when I was first introduced to the NBA. I didn’t grow up in the US. My family did not have long drawn out allegiances to the majestic Lakers, nor were they proud martyrs of following the Clippers. I was left to my own devices with no advice or forewarning as to the life-long implications and repercussions of my team choices.

All I knew back when I could hardly speak any English was that there was once a team that ruled the earth, and they wore purple and gold. They were often referred to as the “Showtime” Lakers and my friends were split between choosing them and Larry Bird’s Celtics when it came to video games.

While I respected my friend’s team choices, no one ever took the time to explain to me what was so great about the Lakers. How could I ever develop an infinite bond with a team I hardly knew? At the same time, NBC and some fella named Ahmad Rashad were constantly talking about some other fella named Michael Jordan.

It was the time of His Airness and I was hooked. Jordan and the Bulls became my team (bandwagon and all), and from that point forward, I knew I could not switch regardless of when the reign would end. You all know how the story goes: MJ wins 3 championships, retires for about a year, comes back and wins 3 more in a storybook ending (I refuse to acknowledge the Washington years—you can’t make me!).

The Bulls then chose to take a break from basketball, just because they were tired, and didn’t resurface until Derrick Rose joined the team (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

In between all of this, we all grew up and learned to think—differently, perhaps more, and in some cases less. I left LA for a few years for college and then came back when it was time to fend for my own.

I started watching the NBA once again, largely devoting what little free time I had to catching Bulls games, but also keeping up with the Clippers and the Lakers.

As #NBATwitter entered my life and access to information became ubiquitous, my eyes and mind opened up to lot more than what I previously enjoyed about basketball. Networks gobbled up live sporting events to compete for air time on features most people wouldn’t DVR.

Sporting events, especially the NBA, began to take on a new life and with personalities like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the cream of today’s generation giving new life to a sport I once loved immensely, I was once again hooked—this time older and (hopefully) wiser.

The shift towards LA

Although my allegiance stayed intact, and as life would have it a work schedule that doesn’t always permit me to watch EST time games, I began following both LA teams a lot more closely than my Bulls. I realized that if I wanted to carve out a tiny pothole in the road of great coverage and writing from all of those I admire in the NBA blogosphere, I would have to focus on “covering” one team.

There are seemingly an infinite number of news items, posts and angles floating around out there for every team. There’s no possible way I could actually hang with that level of rapid fire posting were I to attempt to be team-neutral. Instead, I chose to focus on the forgotten team of LA (forgotten until Blake Griffin came to town).

I couldn’t go with the more famous of the two, as tempting as that may have been from a prestige perspective. It was blatantly obvious that the Lakers had, and still have, a tremendous phalanx of writers, journalists and bloggers covering their every move.

I thought to myself: Why not show some love for the underdog? Besides, a good portion of Lakers Nation didn’t always display the best sportsmanship, often deriding and ridiculing the poor Clippers and their small fan base—something that continues to this day and which has intensified due to the arrival of legitimate talent and minds like Chris Paul & Doc Rivers which seek to transform the legacy of a downtrodden brand.

It was decided. I was happy to devote my ridiculous tweets to covering the Clippers while Lakers fans wailed on “us.” Along the way I picked up some Clippers followers who have been, according to themselves, die-hard followers of the team for quite some time. To their credit, a lot of them tend to be season ticket holders, something that definitely takes gravitas.

Relationships developed and in a parallel fashion, my Twitter game grew (a little; not too much—I’m still a jackass on Twitter). As I became acquainted with more serious writers and bloggers, I quickly rid myself of some of the disdain I had developed from negative experiences forged by bad apples in purple and gold.

Instead, I focused on the story lines, the news, the tweets, everything about LA basketball regardless of team. The colors I loved (red and black), and the colors I chose to cover (red, white and blue), were now joined by the melodrama of the purple and gold. This dual coverage, thus, is what has been causing some interesting reactions on Twitter from people who would prefer that I choose and stick to one team.

I can see how it can be confusing, I totally get it. Fan lines are very strongly drawn on the ground and the tribal mentality of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” is often the norm and the easiest way to gauge who you will and will not follow.

There is social currency to the avatar you rock, which is why when you check out my profile, you will see that I have a picture of Michael Jordan and not a Lakers or Clippers logo. MJ and the Bulls are my roots and the reason for me falling in love with the NBA. As a tribute to that history and my inability to relinquish my fanhood for Chicago without feeling fake, I remain logo-less (at least until I get a logo for this here blog).

So why do I tweet about both teams—neither of which was my childhood team?

I’ll tweet about the Lakers because whether you like it or not, they are a historic pillar of basketball importance, both locally and nationally. So many legendary names have rocked the uniform that even those who don’t do it justice become ingrained into the veins of Los Angeles lore (we’ll never forget you Smoosh!).

I’ll tweet about the Lakers because Kobe Bryant is extremely important and possibly not human. A transcendent superstar with a vice for championships. A relentless individual that refuses to go gently into the good night, and ultimately a walking deity for a generation that witnessed Kobe become what Michael Jordan became to me.

I’ll tweet about the Lakers because I enjoy making fun of Stu Lantz and the homerific tendencies of those that unconditionally protect the brand from any tarnish that may come its way.


I’ll tweet about the Clippers because maybe it’s their time. They’ve suffered long enough under the tenure of Donald Sterling and his mistress, Misfortune.

I’ll tweet about the Clippers because Chris Paul is as focused and devoted to the game as Kobe, but with a more comprehensive understanding of what it is to be human. I’ll tweet about the Clippers because CP3 inspires people and drives them to be at their best, and because when things aren’t clicking, he becomes a magician on the court, single-handedly willing his team to victory.

I’ll tweet about the Clippers because Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan live above the rim. They made basketball fun to watch in spite of falling short in the playoffs. They invite us into their life of fun and sillyness—something that makes them great to follow even when they’re not playing. They remind us that basketball should be fun.

I’ll tweet about the Clippers because I want to tag along for the ride: when they finally get to the top, it’s going to be something special!

I’ll continue to cover the Clippers in my own very basic of ways because I do want to see those acquaintances I’ve made through Twitter rejoice in the ultimate of stages—they deserve it, and it would make me extremely happy to be able to congratulate them firsthand when the clock hits zero and red and white streamers fall from the heaves.

My love for the game, my appreciation for basketball talent, and the silly and dramatic stories that make the game worth watching extend beyond a single jersey.  If you truly love the game of basketball, a single set of colors will not define your level of appreciation for the work other organizations, athletes, writers, bloggers, and fans go through to support an entity that is only ours in our heart.

I hope you all can see that, even if you never make it this far down on this post (I know it’s super long… like Bill-Simmons-talking-about-his-dad kind of long).

If you stick around, know that I’ll cover both teams because this is where I live and I love LA basketball—with all of its championships and all of its lobs.

It’s a wonderful place to live and it’s an incredible time to be part of the scene. I hope you stick around, even if it’s just for the jokes and soliloquies rather than for the imaginary tribal tendencies that often divide us.

Count it! #andthefoul

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