Stu Lantz returns to the broadcast booth

A little more than an hour awaited before tipoff, and longtime Lakers announcer Stu Lantz still needed to squeeze in some prep work.

But it didn’t involve studying up on the Lakers or interviewing a player or coach. It entailed Lantz grabbing yet another cup full of tea and honey in the media workroom at Staples Center. He returned for the Lakers-Kings telecast Sunday on TWC SportsNet after missing the two previous games because of laryngitis stemming from a head cold.

Considering he described himself as “80 percent” healthy, Lantz hoped another remedy of tea and honey would reduce the noticeable raspiness.

“My voice sounds good enough where they said I can work,” Lantz said in an interview with this newspaper. “We’ll see how it sounds like after the game.”

Lantz, in his 27th season with the Lakers, missed three games in 2009 when he took time off while his wife recovered from surgery. Over the years, Lantz also had missed time to attend his mother’s funeral and his daughter’s college graduation. But Lantz’s absence last week marked the first time he missed any game because of a health-related issue. James Worthy filled in as the color analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald.

“I’m definitely going to pick my spots,” Lantz said. “I’m not going to be as noisy and overbearing as normal. I’ll give everybody a break for a little bit.”

Fitting that Lantz’ return coincided with “Chick Hearn Night,” which entailed fans bringing new or gently used books to be donated to a local literary charity in honor of the former Lakers broadcaster.

Hearn’s 42-year broadcasting stint with the Lakers entailed calling 3,338 games spanning both the regular and postseason, a stretch that lasted from Nov. 21, 1965 to Dec. 16, 2001. The streak stopped after Hearn underwent heart surgery.

“I think about that everyday,” said Lantz, who worked with Hearn for 15 years. “I always told him, ‘You’ve already been doing this for 100 years and you’re still going strong.’ For him to do what he did is truly a remarkable feat.”

How did Hearn do it?

“Good luck,” Lantz said. “You really have to be lucky to avoid illness. Nobody’s immune from illness. But he took care of himself and he was lucky. That’s what I’ve tried to do.”

For Lantz, that involved consuming about 8-10 cups full of tea and honey. It appears he hasn’t stopped.

“After this is over,” Lantz said, “I’m never going to touch the stuff again.”

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