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Why Brian Sieman Was the Obvious Choice to Replace Ralph Lawler

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It will be impossible to truly replace Ralph, the newly inducted Hall of Famer, but Brian Sieman is by far the best man for the job.

LA Clippers Foundation Charity Golf Classic Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Play Golf Designs Inc.

This week, Clippers broadcaster Brian Sieman posted a photo marking the 12-year anniversary of signing his first contract with the team.

After a dozen years in the radio booth with the Clippers, following a stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sieman will take over as the play-by-play announcer for the team’s television broadcast in the 2019-20 season. He’ll share the television booth with Chauncey Billups.

Legendary broadcaster Ralph Lawler, who for four decades was arguably more of the face of the Clippers than any of the team’s players, praised the hiring of Sieman as his replacement. Lawler’s opinion matters more than anyone, of course. And it is all that matters really.

However, I’ll second Lawler’s notion. Brian Sieman is the perfect encore for Lawler. He is hardworking, affable, respectable, adaptable, and, oh by the way, one of the best in his profession. Sounds a lot like the way the Clippers constructed their on-the-court roster as well.

I sat next to Brian on the team plane for the better part of three years. I saw first-hand the level of preparation he put into each broadcast. On nights when most every person in the back third of the plane slept, Brian was refining charts for the next opponent. They were typed in shorthand with personal nuggets, biographical information, and stats. He made a point to find salient points that he thought would be of interest to his audience. And he prided himself, in a way very similar to Ralph, on delivering a high-quality broadcast each and every night.

I was fortunate enough to work for the team when they had a chance to win every time they set foot on the court. Brian was there for Elton Brand’s Achilles injury. He was there for the debacle that followed the ouster of Mike Dunleavy, and the Baron Davis no-show.

Sure, Brian wasn’t in the building when the team drafted Michael Olowokandi or trudged through failed season after season the way Ralph was. But it is important that the Clippers landed on a guy in this era of prosperity that still understood and even experienced the past. No one would have fulfilled that like Brian.

His makeup as a broadcaster is without reproach. We’ve all heard him on air over the years. That part stands up to the television job on its own. It’s the intangibles that he brings, like the work on the plane or his humor, that exceed expectations.

It’s been five years since I last traveled with Brian. When I reflected on my time with the Clippers, it has been that relationship and a few others that I value far more than any story about a player or locker room banter.

I watched him rush to his hotel room on the road to FaceTime his family. I listened to small parenting nuggets that applied years later when I had my own kids. I won’t share them all, but the one that has really helped my quality of life: set an early bedtime for your kids and stick with it because otherwise you’ll never have time with your spouse or for yourself.

Brian’s influence as a professional was lasting as well. His late nights of preparation motivated me to never use the plane for a nap. He gave me confidence by praising my work when I had doubts, and had the integrity to question things or choices, even personal ones, that he didn’t agree with. When he cited my work on air, he told me. When I had to appear on the pregame show for the first time, he talked me through the process. When I was asked to MC a small presentation for the Clippers in a pinch (believe me, I wasn’t the first choice), I channeled some of the things I had seen Brian do in similar situations… with the exception of telling a Reggie Evans joke.

After Ralph stepped away in May there were many names bandied about as a potential replacement. But something tells me the Clippers knew all along that they had one last “bingo” left before Brian brings his own signature call to the booth.