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Ralph Lawler to return next season

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Clippers fans, don't worry. We will get to hear "Bingo" and "Fasten your seat belts" next season, as Ralph Lawler confirmed that he will be back for the 2015-16 NBA season, his 37th with the club.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you, like me, who dread the day you no longer get to hear Ralph Lawler call Clippers games, you can breathe a little easier today. This morning, Ralph Lawler confirmed with the Los Angeles Times that he will be back for the 2015-16 NBA season. It will be his 37th season with the Clippers.

The soon-to-be 77-year old Lawler told the paper, "It's just really hard to turn and walk away from that," referring to the Clippers recent success on the court.

For many Clippers fans, Lawler is the Clippers. His is the one piece that has always been there (except for two seasons in the 80's). Through the bad years, through the worse years, and through the rare (until recently) good years, he has been the one constant. When a big announcement from Lawler was advertised on Monday by The Beast 980, two things ran through my head. Either he was announcing his return for the next season, or he was announcing that this season would be his last. Ultimately, his announcement was about the new long term agreement between the Clippers and the radio station, to broadcast Clippers games to Los Angeles area listeners.

From the LA Times:

Ralph Lawler went on KFWB 980 on Monday morning to announce the Clippers had signed a long-term contract with the radio station.

What the longtime television broadcaster didn't say was whether he would continue to call games, but Clippers fans need not worry. Lawler told The Times on Tuesday he would return for the 2015-16 season, his 37th with the franchise.

Lawler, who turns 77 next week, said there were a handful of factors that prompted his decision to return. The Clippers are enjoying an unprecedented period of success that will include a record fourth consecutive playoff appearance and he feels appreciative of new ownership and management that held a Ralph Lawler Night at Staples Center earlier this season.

"It's just really hard to turn and walk away from that," Lawler said before the Clippers played the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night in their regular-season finale. "My wife and I love it, to begin with, and it's pretty invigorating to think how good this team can be for a good long while now and I just think the organization is getting better and better."

Lawler had a few health issues this season, including complications from kidney stone removal that forced him to miss a game in December and a bout of food poisoning that caused him to slur his words during a game in January. He said he would probably undergo hip replacement surgery in the off-season but said he otherwise felt good.

"My health is really good and that's always the No. 1 factor," Lawler said. "If your health isn't good, work doesn't mean much."

Lawler credited owner Steve Ballmer and President Gillian Zucker for changing the environment around a franchise that was rocked last year by the Donald Sterling scandal.

"Thinking of where we were a year ago now and where we are now, it is beyond day and night," Lawler said. "It's really special."

I dread the day that Ralph Lawler is no longer calling Clippers games, and am thankful he will be back for at least one more season.