Sports

Ralph Lawler will return for at least one more season

Clippers' announcer doesn't want retirement tied to Donald Sterling
Broadcaster Ralph Lawler has been with the team since 1978
Ralph Lawler felt he worked for the fans, not the Sterlings

OKLAHOMA CITY — Longtime Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler said Wednesday he would return for at least one more season because he did not want his retirement to be associated with the messy end of the Donald Sterling era.

"I positively don't want to get thrown out with the dishwater, so to speak," Lawler told The Times before Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals at Chesapeake Energy Arena. "I want to come back with new ownership, new vision, new hope and be a part of that transition, be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem."

Lawler, who recently turned 76, said he had been "terribly depressed" and had difficulty eating after disparaging remarks about blacks attributed to Sterling were made public in a recording released last month.

Sterling received a lifetime ban and a $2.5-million fine and faces a vote by fellow NBA owners to oust him from ownership, though his wife, Shelly, said Wednesday she intended to keep the team in her family's control.

Lawler, whose first season with the team in 1978 predated Sterling's arrival, said he did not feel as though he worked for the Sterlings.

"I feel I've always represented the fans of this ballclub," Lawler said. "They've been my employer as far as I was concerned."

Lawler acknowledged that he has been contemplating retirement for a few years. He thought of leaving last summer but figured he would stay on for another season after the Clippers hired Doc Rivers. Then he thought he might leave after this season before the Sterling scandal broke.

"I don't want to be tainted by anything because I'm proud of my body of work and I've taken a great deal of pride in it," Lawler said. "I've loved it and I've loved this team and [the controversy] just really hurt. I thought, 'Oh, my God, all these years for nothing.'"

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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