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Best Game Ever: Ralph Lawler recalls a unifying game during the riots of 1992

Ralph Lawler
Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler gives a wave to fans at Staples Center during a halftime ceremony in his honor during the 2016 season.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Dan Woike asked NBA figures to tell us about the best game in their basketball career. This week: Ralph Lawler.

May 3, 1992: Clippers 115, Jazz 107

Ralph Lawler, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, has seen his share of craziness in four decades broadcasting Clippers basketball.For all the last-second shots, the wild dunks and amazing talents he’s seen, Lawler’s best game ever came with Los Angeles on the brink of crisis.

“I’m going to go back a long ways to 1992. It was the Clippers’ first time in the playoffs and they were down 2-0 to Utah and came back and won Game 3 at the old Sports Arena. And then the L.A. riots happened. They closed the city down. There were curfews every night. You’d go to work and come home. You couldn’t go to the movies. You couldn’t go to restaurants. All ball games, college and pro, were canceled. The Clippers’ Game 4 against the Jazz was postponed day by day. You couldn’t get close to the Sports Arena because that’s where the National Guard was. The Lakers, who were in the playoffs as well, moved their game to Las Vegas. The Clippers found a way to keep it in the general area by moving to the Anaheim Convention Center. They picked up the basketball court from the Sports Arena and trucked it down there. On a Sunday afternoon, it was the first event where people could relax and have fun. It was a real celebration for the whole city and the ball club responded well. Doc Rivers played in that game. Larry Brown coached it. Danny Manning had a monster game. … The fact that it was a unifying event for the city, that it was a social event, a huge moment, that to me is the moment I’ll take away with me like ‘That was really special.’”

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dan.woike@latimes.com

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports


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