In somewhat surprising news, the Clippers have replaced Ralph Lawler’s partner-in-crime, Mike Smith, with longtime Spurs’ player Bruce Bowen per Brad Turner of the LA Times. Mike Smith had been with the Clippers for 19 seasons as a TV analyst, and played for them in 1995. While not as venerated as Ralph, Mike had impeccable chemistry with Lawler, and the two have called the biggest games in Clippers’ history together.
The Clippers are transitioning into a new era on the court, and their front office has shifted around as well. Its therefore not totally shocking that they are switching up their broadcast as well, though the timing of it (right before the season) is a little weird. It’s not impossible that Smith is completely out of the organization, but it’s probably unlikely.
Mike Smith was a homer for the Clippers, but that’s what most color commentators are like, and there was no doubting his passion or enthusiasm for Clippers’ basketball. He will unquestionably be missed, and it will be quite odd watching Clippers’ games without him raving about a Clippers’ play, or hearing Ralph say “Settle down Mike Smith” whenever he got carried away.
Bruce Bowen, of course, is one of the first players people think of when remembering those great Spurs’ teams of the early-mid 2000s. He was perhaps the best perimeter defender of his day, a true “3 and D” guard before such players became common. Bowen also had a reputation for being dirty on the court, but was a beloved teammate in San Antonio. He has been an analyst for ESPN since he retired in 2009, though he was never one of their primary analysts for basketball games. A somewhat more recent player, he actually faced off against some current NBA players, though his on-court experience is obviously long over. He could definitely provide more of a modern perspective, though he’s certainly no spring chicken himself.
Turner reports that the Clippers wanted Reggie Miller to be their analyst, but couldn’t get him due to lack of availability. In addition, James Koh has been replaced as the team’s pre- and post- game radio host— Jeanne Zelasko is taking over. Zelasko has worked with Fox Sports West for a long time, so the takeover should be relatively natural.
Good luck to Mike Smith, who was a true pro throughout his time with the Clippers. He is (to my knowledge, anyway), the longest tenured analyst in the team’s history, and the Clippers will undoubtedly honor him in some way in the years to come. A mic in the rafters is definitely in the cards, and it would be fantastic to see his name alongside that of the legendary Lawler, his partner for 19 seasons. Good luck Mike!