Ralph Lawler Postponing Retirement Because of Donald Sterling

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 1: Los Angeles Clippers commentator Ralph Lawler poses for a photo before a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

If you're a Los Angeles Clippers fan, then you're probably quite familiar with the voice of television game commentator Ralph Lawler. You'll also be pleased to know Lawler will be around for at least another season according to the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch:

I positively don't want to get thrown out with the dishwater, so to speak," Lawler told The Times before Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals at Chesapeake Energy Arena. "I want to come back with new ownership, new vision, new hope and be a part of that transition, be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Bolch writes that Lawler "did not want his retirement to be associated with the messy end of the Donald Sterling era."

Lawler's sentiment seems largely symbolic, but that's understandable at a time when anyone associated with the franchise is looking to distance himself from Sterling's racist rant to then-cohort V. Stiviano. Lawler said he didn't "want to be tainted by anything," expressing pride in his work for the organization and the opportunity to represent Clippers fans.

A week ago, Lawler said, "It was terribly painful, terribly emotional for everybody in the organization. It was gut-wrenching" (per The Desert Sun's Andrew L. John).

Jeff Lewis/Associated Press

Lawler had previously intimated that he might he retiring over Twitter, saying "that's the plan for now" while admitting it had also been "the plan a year ago" (in 2012).

The 76-year-old quickly had second thoughts about calling it quits, according to the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott:

He pulled the tweet and explained he wasn't declaring this his farewell season, just voicing thoughts he has considered for probably a decade. But he acknowledged he's going year to year, weighing the joys of the job and the excitement of the Clippers' long-awaited ascent against the grind of living out of a suitcase and maintaining a relentless pace much of the year.

So perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised by Lawler's recent decision to stick around. Part of him seems to have wanted to even before the Sterling news broke.

How much longer he sticks around may depend on how quickly the Clippers' future is resolved. While the NBA will look to force Sterling to sell the team, the effort could get caught up in litigation in the event Sterling opts to fight it.

Given that Lawler wants to be part of a new organization, he could find himself in a holding pattern beyond this season. All the better for those of us who get to enjoy him on local Los Angeles broadcasts and League Pass.