An excused absence for his grandfather’s funeral led to Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams being photographed at a strip club. Understandably, the NBA now has some questions.
The league is investigating Williams’ trip outside the bubble at Disney World as it figures out how long the reigning Sixth Man of the Year has to remain in quarantine upon return, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Bobby Marks.
Rapper Jack Harlow had posted a picture of himself with Williams on Thursday, which the rapper later claimed was an old picture. Both the picture and clarification have been deleted.
Williams has since reportedly admitted that he was at the strip club.
The Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner also reported the NBA is looking into Williams’ trip.
If the NBA determines Williams had been engaging in high-risk behavior while outside the bubble, that will likely mean several extra days in quarantine and missing the Clippers’ Disney World opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on July 30.
Williams would be a significant loss for the Clippers. The 33-year-old is currently averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 assists per game off the bench, combining with Montrezl Harrell to form one of the league’s most devastating pick-and-roll combinations.
Lou Williams was definitely at a strip club
The Lou Williams strip club saga began when it was reported early on Thursday that he had received an excused absence to leave the bubble for personal reasons. Williams later tweeted it had been his grandfather who died.
Hours later, this photo from Harlow’s Instagram story started making the rounds on social media:
The “location U would never guess” would later turn out to be the Magic City strip club in Williams’ native Atlanta.
That photo was hastily taken down, after which Harlow tweeted “That was an old pic of me and Lou. I was just reminiscing cuz I miss him.” Then that tweet got deleted.
“Old pic” sounds like a good defense, except for two reasons. One, a picture of Williams at the strip club was also found on the Instagram story of the club’s DJ. Two, the mask Williams is seen wearing in the “old” photo with Harlow matches the kind that were handed out to NBA players in the bubble.
“Obviously those [pictures] got out and that’s something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing or like,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told reporters.
Per ESPN, Williams told NBA investigators that he attended a viewing for his grandfather that ended at 6 p.m. on Thursday, at which point he headed to Magic City for dinner. Apparently, the food is quite good.
Lou Williams: Big fan of this particular strip club’s food
Williams was even more glowing in an interview pulled up by ESPN’s Ros Gold-Onwude.
“Magic City is my favorite restaurant in the world,” Williams said. “All entertainment is shut down in Atlanta. The restaurant is still open. You can still go to Magic and get your food ... it’s part of our culture here.”
That past praise led some credibility to his claim that he was at Magic City for the food, not the partying.
How long will Lou Williams have to quarantine?
Why does all this matter? Well, beyond the optics and comedy of an NBA player being unable to stop himself from leaving the bubble to hit a strip club before real games have even begun, the NBA’s investigation will also likely determine if Williams can play in the Clippers’ first few scheduled games.
Normally, players with excused absences only have to go through a four-day quarantine after returning to the bubble assuming they underwent daily tests, which Williams reportedly did. Zion Williamson is currently doing exactly that.
However, that quarantine time can be extended to 10 or even 14 days if the NBA’s outside infectious disease specialists recommend it, according to Shelburne. If the experts determine Williams poses an increased risk, his return to the team could go from July 29, four days from Saturday, to Aug. 4 or Aug. 8.
That would ... not be great considering the Clippers are scheduled to play the Lakers on July 30, then the New Orleans Pelicans on Aug. 1, the Phoenix Suns on Aug. 4 and the Dallas Mavericks on Aug. 6.
Clippers remain short-handed in bubble
Williams’ drama comes at an inconvenient time for the Clippers, as the team was already dealing with several excused absences on its team.
Williams, Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac, who are all either starters or in the Clippers top seven in minutes per game, are either out of the bubble or currently quarantining. Another starter, Marcus Morris, told reporters on Friday he will leave the bubble in September for the birth of his son.
Williams is already in quarantine, as is Zubac (who won’t have to quarantine as long), per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. Harrell posted “See you soon #Orlando” earlier Saturday and could be en route to the bubble. Shamet is also apparently en route, but has been dealing with the coronavirus and might not be game-ready.
That’s a lot of players who might be ready for July 30 against the Lakers, but it seems quite unlikely the 44-20 Clippers will have all of them ready as they push to keep the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
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