The lure is real.
Before you try to crush Lou Williams for getting sidetracked at Magic City in Atlanta, pump the brakes and take a step back.
Magic City is no joke and is a part of NBA life for many. Anybody who doesn’t know that hasn’t spent one minute on the road in NBA America.
Many great players have stopped through this strip club institution en route to winning big games and championships. It’s a side dish, never the main course when it comes to playing basketball.
That’s real talk that the general public just doesn’t know about it.
I’ve been covering the NBA since 1987. For many sports writers, it’s the next best thing to Marriott points when you’re away from home.
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Hence, there’s nothing strange or unusual about the idea that Williams, the Los Angeles Clippers star, would want to swing through.
Enter the “it’s irresponsible crew.” Go ahead.
Tell us that Williams is selfish, irresponsible and is putting others at risk. That’s fair.
But only if he’s not following the protocol set by the city and state to allow the business to be open in the first place during a pandemic.
And to be fair, in the Instagram picture with rapper Jack Harlow, Williams is wearing an NBA-issued mask.
Hardly sounds like Williams was being irresponsible. This idea by some that he should be suspended or punished by the league is just dumb, and without merit.
If there were pictures of a maskless Williams in the grill of others, also without a face covering, there would be reason for alarm. It just wasn’t the case.
According to reports, Williams, 33, was interviewed by NBA security about where he was on Thursday. Williams admitted to being at the famous gentlemen’s club for a short time, but that there were no dancers there while he was in the building.
Reportedly, Williams went to Magic City for dinner after attending a viewing of a close friend’s father who had passed.
Williams tweeted on Friday after his Magic City visit started trending, “Ask any of my teammates what’s my favorite restaurant in Atlanta is. Ain’t nobody partying. Chill out lol. #Maskon #inandout.”
I know. I know. A strip club for dinner? Few make better wings and waffle fries than Magic City. But honestly, the soul food there is delicious. The Magic City Kitchen gets plenty of singles, too.
Nonetheless, the NBA is smart to investigate Williams’ whereabouts during his excused absence from the NBA bubble in Orlando.
Per NBA policy, Williams, of course, was tested for coronavirus each day that he was away from campus. Players are subject to a minimum four-day quarantine after they leave the campus.
And that all makes sense. But this idea that the “bubble” makes you totally safe from the virus just isn’t true.
This isn’t a real bubble. It’s a fake bubble, at best.
If everyone was in the bubble and couldn’t leave for three months, that’s a real bubble. But players can leave and come back. Workers at Disney leave and come back. No one knows what they did the night before serving food and drinks to NBA stars.
Soon, family members will be allowed to visit the bubble as well.
The point is simply that a real bubble doesn’t have an exit. The NBA’s does.
And people need to stop acting like players are bad people for not wanting to be confined and cut off from the rest of the world.
Asking players to stay in is a strange and unusual requirement. It is so different from the life NBA players and millionaires are accustomed to. No wonder NBA commissioner Adam Silver won’t agree to do it.
The MLB season is underway without a bubble. Players after playing the game with social distancing in place and then going home to their families. So far, MLB’s coronavirus cases have been small. According to MLB and the MLBPA, as of Opening Day, 32,640 samples were collected and tested, with 99 “new” positives tests (84 players, 15 staff), resulting in a 0.3 percent rate.
Meanwhile, the NBA has had its share of cases, including Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic to name a few.
The bottom line remains that it’s about taking the right precautions. It has nothing to do with the place you’re going. The supermarket is just as bad as Magic City if you aren’t safe and smart and follow the medical guidelines to fight the virus.
And Magic City is so popular that on my national daily sports talk show on Fox Sports Radio — The Odd Couple with my co-host Chris Broussard — we dedicate Monday’s to this joint.
Yes, every Monday is Magic City Monday on The Odd Couple. Out of breaks, we play music that you might hear in the club. It’s fun and no mask is required.
Seriously, though, before the season started, I thought the Clippers would have a magical season — win the championship. Williams is certainly providing his own magic en route.