Getting Pumped Up
Clippers New In-Arena Host Looks Forward To Pumping Up The Crowd

By D.J. Foster | | 11/15/11

He is versatile, he is talented, and he has an eerie resemblance to former NBA sharp-shooter Wally Szczerbiak. He is NBA in-arena announcing veteran Mike Rylander, and this season, he will be pumping up Clipper fans at STAPLES Center at select games after serving as the Minnesota Timberwolves in-game announcer for five years.

The North Dakota native has appeared in numerous theatre productions, independent films and television and internet commercials, and is now looking forward to keeping his winter clothes in the closest and exchanging his parka for a Clippers uniform. For more information on Rylander, visit his website here.

So this will be your first year with the Clippers after working with the Timberwolves as the in-arena host. What was Minnesota like?

Cold. The Timberwolves were a fun organization to work for, but I’m super excited to be in Los Angeles and work for the Clippers.

How long were you in Minnesota for? How did you end up there?

I was in Minneapolis for 10 years and worked for the Timberwolves for five years. I grew up in North Dakota. I was going to move to L.A. when I was 19, but ended up choosing Minneapolis as a first step.

How did you get your start doing in-arena hosting?

I was performing “improv” and comedy in the Minneapolis area and the Timberwolves were looking for an announcer. They had an open casting call, I auditioned, and it was just sort of a right place, right time sort of thing. Since I’ve been doing it, I couldn’t imagine not working in the NBA. I love it so much.

I have to mention this, even though I know you’re probably sick of it. How often do people tell you that you look like former NBA player Wally Szczerbiak?

I would say when I wasn’t at the Target Center (Minnesota’s arena), I would probably get the Wally Szczerbiak thing five times a day. On days where I was at the arena, probably 20 times a day. I actually got it from players in the league quite a bit. At pretty much every NBA game, there was at least one player who would call me “little Wally” or “Wally Jr.” or sometimes just “Wally.” I’ve learned how to answer to Wally, pretty much.

So now that you’re in Los Angeles, what are you going to be doing with the Clippers?

I’m going to be pumping up fans and getting them excited to cheer on the team. I’ll be giving away free stuff, doing shooting contests. Basically, my job is to integrate the basketball and the fans.

Have you had any prior experiences with L.A. fans?

I was actually hired by the NBA to do a job in L.A. in 2009. I was the MC for an NBA party on Hermosa Beach. That was my first experience with L.A. fans and I could tell that this was going to be fun. I’m really excited to get a feel for what the team is like. I’m fresh to the organization and I really want to come in and do the best job I can. I’m really curious to see how the team will play and experience it all firsthand.

What are you expecting from the STAPLES Center crowd?

I’m really excited to see the difference between the fans in Minneapolis and the fans in Los Angeles. I think the fans will be a lot meaner here – in a good way. In Minnesota the audiences can be a little reserved at times and you really have to press them to get into the game. I’ve been in L.A. two months now and the people here are much more likely to say what they feel and do what they say. I’m really excited for that first game at STAPLES Center – it’s going to be a lot of fun.


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