LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler was approached two months ago with a special request. A longtime season-ticket holder asked team president Gillian Zucker if he could call a game on television with Lawler and honor his 40 seasons with the club.
Lawler apprehensively said yes, until he found out it wasn’t just any season-ticket holder. It happens to be one that has hosted the Academy Awards nine times.
Billy Crystal, who has been the team’s most well-known fan through the good times and bad, will be the analyst for the Jan. 31 game against the Lakers.
“They told me he really wants to do it,” Lawler said before the Clippers faced Dallas on Thursday night. “He has been a fan forever and he wants to take his time to pay his respects for my longtime service to the club.”
Crystal has been a season-ticket holder since 1985, when the team played at the old LA Sports Arena. Lawler said the two have spent a lot of time over the years talking basketball and that it will be a fun experience doing it on television.
“It will be a big game and the building will be electric. He’s done the Academy Awards for nine years so he can handle our broadcast,” Lawler said.
Crystal isn’t the only guest analyst who will work with Lawler this season. Mike Fratello, Hubie Brown and Bill Walton — who are all former partners of Lawler — will return for some games.
“Ralph is a fantastic broadcaster and a wonderful man,” Crystal told the Clippers’ website. “I’m looking forward to calling a game with him. He’s a Hall of Famer in my book.”