Clippers guard Lou Williams became the first casualty of the NBA “bubble” when he went to Atlanta’s Magic City to have what he says is his usual meal after traveling there for the funeral of a longtime mentor.
But he also says that the backlash to the incident was overblown. He was still processing the death of someone he considered family and because of it maybe didn’t think his decision through as much as he should have.
As reported by ESPN, Williams, 33, acknowledged in his first post-game press conference after he was isolated per quarantine protocol that he didn’t make the best choice.
“In hindsight, I think as far as the public safety issue goes, I probably could have made a better-quality decision,” Williams, the league’s reigning Sixth Man, said. “I was a little naïve in that aspect. I went somewhere after a viewing of somebody I considered a mentor, somebody I looked up to, first Black man I seen with legal money in my life.”
Williams, who grew up in Georgia, had an excused absence from the team to attend the funeral of Paul G. Williams, a friend’s father. He defended going to the club, which was close to the viewing, as a place he frequents all the time when he’s in town.
“It’s been documented how much I talk about this place, how much I eat there,” Williams said. “I just did something that was routine for me. I frequent that place at that time of day, 5:30, 6 in the afternoon.”
He explained his thought process.
“At the time, I thought I was making a responsible decision. After looking back on it, with everything going on in the world, the pandemic, maybe it wasn’t the best-quality decision. I chalk it up as that, take my L and keep moving,” he said.
The legendary strip club that has been featured in multiple music videos is a popular one for Atlanta-based celebrities. Williams is such a frequent customer that the club’s lemon pepper BBQ wings are named for him.
He says the trip was a quick “in and out” but that description was refuted by a Magic City dancer who told the Los Angeles Times she was one of the club’s dancers who performed for him.
“He tipped very well,” a dancer named Aries told the Times.
The club reopened in June after a mandated closing due to the COVID-19.
Williams had to quarantine for 10 days upon his return to the NBA “bubble” at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida where the NBA season restarted last month.
He missed the first two games of the Clippers season and is one of several Clippers players who had excused absences for personal issues, including Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, who lost his grandmother.
Though the NBA bubble has gone off mostly without a hitch, Williams says that it doesn’t mean that real-life issues don’t puncture it in certain situations.
“I truly was grieving two weeks ago. I was really going through something. I was thrown under the bus, you know what I’m saying?” Williams said to the media.
“All the attention turned to Magic City because it’s a gentlemen’s club. I feel like if I was at a steakhouse or Hooters or whatever, it wouldn’t be half the story.”
He pleaded for understanding.
“I pray and I really hope these fans understand what Trez (Montrezl Harrell) is going through while he’s away, so when he come back, people don’t have a lot to say. Pat went through the thing with his family. I went through my thing. We’re having real-life issues in the world,” he said.
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