Ralph Lawler & Bill Walton: “Bingo!”



This week Andy chats with one of the most iconic broadcasting duos of all time, Ralph Lawler & Bill Walton! For thirteen seasons, Ralph & Bill brought fun and action to every Los Angeles Clippers game and today, they team up to celebrate Ralph’s legendary Hall of Fame career and new memoir, “Bingo!: Forty Years in the NBA.”  In this episode of Legends Of Sport, hear Ralph & Bill reminisce about their first meeting, how Bill owes his broadcasting career to Ralph, an infamous river rafting trip, all the times Bill was “fired,” and Ralph’s undying love for making the game of basketball a fan experience. 

Ralph on his introduction to broadcasting: “I was a business major at Bradley University…I wasn’t enjoying it much…In the middle of my junior year, I just thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I hated all my classes and wasn’t happy…I had an Introduction to Radio class that was taught by a man named Henry “Hank” VanderHeyden…The first time I heard my voice come out of a big speaker on the wall, after recording it, I went, ‘Oh my god, this is fun. This is great.’ And Hank kept citing me as, ‘Listen to Ralph. That’s the way you should do it.’…He got me started, got me a job at a couple little radio stations in town and I have been forever indebted to him.”

Ralph on his many years of covering “bad basketball”: “I never thought I was watching bad basketball…The Chicago Bulls are defeating the Clippers by 30 points at the half… But I watched Michael Jordan and I watched Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman be absolutely brilliant, so I didn’t see bad basketball. I saw great basketball, just not much of it was played by the Clippers, over the years. I enjoyed every single game of the 3,300 and some that I broadcasted. I enjoyed every one of the games. The season we won 12 and lost 70, I hated to see the season end. I just love the game and I love the craft of broadcasting and trying to find a way when you’re down by 30 at the half, to give the viewer or the listener a reason, to motivate them to watch the second half of the darn basketball game…My job was to entertain and inform the fans.”

Other topics discussed in this episode:

5:50: The first time Ralph and Bill met at a press conference during his rookie season

8:30: Bill credits Ralph for saving his life and describes him as a selfless man who “gave his life so that other people’s dreams could come true”

13:12: A chance meeting at a 7-Eleven in 1990 leads to the beginning of Bill’s broadcasting career 

23:15: Ralph’s love for the game basketball and the craft of broadcasting

28:25: Ralph and Bill reminisce on their favorite 18-day river rafting trip

45:00: Bill’s numerous “firings” from the Clippers broadcast booth

46:41: The concept behind Ralph’s book…and it starts with NBA legend George Mikan

47:45: Ralph reflects on the Clippers organization, from past controversies to the current team with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George under Steve Ballmer’s ownership

54:00: Ralph pulls off the greatest on-air prank on Bill

57:45: The time Bill’s grandmother left Ralph speechless during a live interview

59:54: Bill’s final reflections and impressions of some classic Ralph quotes

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