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Lou Williams breaks silence on Magic City situation

Lou Williams, Magic City, Clippers

LOS ANGELES – Lou Williams made his return to the LA Clippers lineup for Tuesday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns. The return came in a loss, but it was another step for the Clippers as they near full strength.

Williams missed the team’s final two scrimmage games as well as the first two seeding games while he was quarantining from his team-excused absence from the bubble. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year departed from Orlando on July 24th to attend a funeral for a mentor he had growing up.

The attention quickly turned to his actions after the viewing, going to a popular gentleman’s club in the middle of a pandemic. Williams is a frequent visitor of Magic City’s, which is popular for its restaurant, but the optics of him going to a gentleman’s club in the middle of a pandemic while away from his team were horrible.

“In hindsight, I think as far as the public safety issue goes, I probably could have made a better quality decision,” Lou Williams admitted to open up his first availability with members of the media since the Magic City debacle made headlines. “I was a little naive 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 has publicly raved about his love for Magic City’s wings, most recently in an interview with Turner Sports’ Ros Gold-Onwude. In fact, Williams even has his own wings named after him in the restaurants menu: The ‘Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings.’

Clippers Lou Williams magic City menu

Magic City

“The funeral home was a couple blocks away from one of my favorite restaurants,” Williams added. “It’s been documented how much I talk about this place, how much I eat there. I just did something that was routine for me. I frequent that place at that time of day, 5:30, 6:00 in the afternoon. 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.”

The NBA launched an investigation after photos surfaced of Williams inside Magic City, and the Clippers guard was issued a 10-day quarantine period (as opposed to the four-day quarantine) despite the fact that he tested negative every day he was away from the team.

Williams isn’t the only player who took time away from the Orlando bubble to tend to personal matters. His Clippers teammates, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, also took time away to deal with deaths in the family or their close circles. Pelicans big man Zion Williamson also left the bubble for a week as he tended to a family matter. Any absences that have come in the last couple of weeks have only been highlighted because of the magnifying glass currently on the league as it works through a virus sweeping the nation.

Lou Williams used his postgame press conference not only to own up to his mistakes, but to highlight what may have been lost in his situation: Athletes are not immune to real life situations that happen off the court.

“It’s extremely difficult, man. At the end of the day, 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? I was thrown under the bus. 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. But it is what it is. It was just difficult. It was difficult to go through that.

“I pray and I really hope these fans understand what Trez is going through while he’s away, so when he comes 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. It’s on front of a page to see the decisions you make outside of that. It’s difficult. It’s part of the landscape. You understand that. People are going to say their things, they’re going to print their things, imaginations are going to run wild. You deal with these things and keep moving.”

In his return to the court, Williams was limited by the Clippers to just 21 minutes, finishing with seven points, six rebounds, and six assists on 3-of-8 shooting from the field.

Lou Williams cleared quarantine on Monday night, and Rivers elected to throw him right into the fire on a minutes restriction on Tuesday instead of waiting to get a practice under his belt.

“I needed it,” Williams said after the game. “I needed it. I don’t know if I was going to be able to just watch that game today with the last 10 days being by myself, being isolated, watching so much basketball – watching so much good basketball. A lot of great basketball games I was able to watch. It would have been difficult just to watch this game anyway. It was good for me to get out there, get a few minutes in, try to contribute the best I could. I’m sure my minutes will go up next game and moving forward. It was good just to get out there.”

Lou Williams, Clippers, Orlando

According to Williams, his 10 days inside his hotel room weren’t boring or driving him crazy. Instead, he looked at it a different way.

“I just attacked it with a positive mind. I understood I was going to have to quarantine regardless of the days. The days changed once I got back. I just attacked it with a positive mind.

“I was able to finish a couple of books. I did some crossword puzzles. I had 10 minutes to pack up my room, so I was able to get out my studio stuff. I stayed engaged on Zoom with the practices. Had 30 minutes to work out every day. Knowing we had 30 minutes, we maximized the opportunity. We didn’t really take that lightly. The 30 minutes I had to work out every day, we were really getting it in. I was just trying to spend my time positively, keep a great mind, keep a great spirit and keep moving.”

Williams and the Clippers dropped to 1-2 on Tuesday, allowing teams like the Nuggets and Rocket to inch closer to that two seed with five games still remaining. The Clippers will now take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night before they start a weekend back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday.