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The Seats Are Still Purple, but...

Entering their 8th season playing in Staples Center(hard to believe, huh?), the Clippers remain the 'other LA team', after the Lakers and Kings, and frankly sometimes even after the Avengers.  This despite the fact that the Clippers played 3 more playoff games in Staples last season than the Lakers, and 6 more than the Kings.

Yet a visit to would make you think they didn't exist.  The FAQ answers such burning questions as "How can I get tickets to a Lakers game?" and "Where can I buy a Kings jersey, Lakers warmup, or other LA team merchandise?"  without a single mention of a team called 'the Clippers.'  Given that this is just a list of frequently asked questions, maybe it all makes sense.  Clippers fans are smart enough to figure these things out for themselves.

I happen to like the fact that the Clippers get third choice on scheduling dates.  The 12:30 weekend tip times are always the first games I buy, so that I can take my kids and not worry about bed times.

But according to Helene Elliot in the LA Times, some time this season the Staples Center Green Room will be renamed "Lawler's Lounge" in honor of long time Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler.

It goes without saying that LA sports fans have been blessed with an overabundance of broadcasting legends.  I grew up listening to Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg.  I'm not a hockey guy, but I guess this kid Bob Miller is supposed to be good too.

But Ralph Lawler deserves to be considered in the same category as those legends.  He is the only announcer the Clippers have ever had, and one of the most long-lived announcers in the NBA, entering his 29th year with the club.

Perhaps because the Clippers have had only a handful of winning seasons in all that time, Lawler is less of a 'homer' than most play-by-play announcers.  Clearly he is enthusiastic about the Clippers and wants them to play well, but he remains objective about their performance, about the officiating, about the opponent, etc.  

So congratulations to Ralph, and let's hope this begins a new era for the Clippers in LA, one where they are no longer invisible.