Mark Medina, USA TODAY
Published 8:51 p.m. ET July 27, 2020 | Updated 8:57 p.m. ET July 27, 2020
What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina was on hand for LeBron James’ post-scrimmage news conference where he explained the outrage over a lack of justice for Breonna Taylor.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It took less than 90 seconds for former NBA player Kendrick Perkins to break down the difference between how Los Angeles Clippers veteran Lou Williams and New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson handled a pre-approved trip out of the NBA campus.
Williams must serve an additional 10 days in quarantine after a pre-approved trip to a friend’s funeral veered into a stop at an Atlanta strip club for its apparently delicious takeout. Williamson will only complete four days in quarantine after taking traveling to attend to an urgent family matter.
“You got a guy in a rookie in Zion Williamson, who left for a family issue and he handled it way better than Lou,” Perkins said on ESPN. “We didn’t hear a word. He went down, took care of his business with his family and he’s back to the bubble. Now on another note, it adds another distraction or the Clippers as far as them winning the title. Now they had to answer questions and do media about something they shouldn’t have to be worried about. They should only be worried about playing basketball and making sure they’re raising awareness about social justice. Now they got to talk about Magic City, Lou and chicken wings. It’s just not fair and it’s very irresponsible on Lou’s part.”
It’s disturbing when a Rookie in Zion Williamson can act more Mature than NBA vet Lou Williams!!! https://t.co/FlWgDBEXRU
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 27, 2020
It took only two Twitter posts for Williams to explain to Perkins why he believed he delivered a take spicier than the wings he enjoyed at Magic City.
15 years in this business and the most dirt you have on my name is stopping to get hot wings during a pandemic. Perk. Shut up. And stop laughing and saying it’s just tv when you run into me too. https://t.co/2xnCpG9I1J
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) July 27, 2020
But I digress. I went home to see a man off to his final resting place that was a giant in my life. I don’t want that to get lost in all this attention. So again, LONG LIVE THE GREAT PAUL WILLIAMS SR. back to my quarantine so I can join the guys soon. Peace
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) July 27, 2020
Williams’ current and former teammates also came to his defense. Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, Jerome Robinson and Sindarius Thornwell all defended Williams by criticizing Perkins for not fully taking into account why Williams stopped at Magic City.
Big perk what you not gone do is talk wild to the OG, when you don’t got all facts https://t.co/ykbjHPDHEL
— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) July 27, 2020
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So why are the Clippers defending a teammate that compromised the league’s safety from the coronavirus? Why are the Clippers defending a player that will miss their first two games of the season’s restart, including games against the Lakers (Thursday) and the Pelicans (Saturday)?
“He made a mistake. But it wasn’t intended to be a mistake,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We’ll get over it quickly. We know why we’re here. Lou knows why we’re here.”
The Clippers are here to win their first ever NBA championship. Williams, a 17-year veteran, is also here to win his first NBA championship. Williams has helped the Clippers become a title contender after becoming dependable with his scoring (18.7 points per game), conditioning and work habits. The Clippers are aware Williams went to Magic City to pick up takeout rather than enjoying the other services the place provides.
“Lou’s one of the most liked guys in the whole organization and is always trying to get everyone together on the road,” center Ivica Zubac said. “Lou is a true leader. The fact that everyone is coming to the defense of him speaks everything about him.”
It says something about the Clippers, too. On Saturday, Rivers admitted social media pictures of Williams’ pit-stop to Magic City were “something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing.” Three days later, Rivers sounded more forgiving and suggested Williams had no plans to see a large gathering greet him.
“We’ll move on,” Rivers said. “I didn’t look at it as a suspension or anything like that. I just look at it as they knew he was in public. So that’s the protocol.”