What has been the biggest threat to the NBA bubble? Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings

Dan Wetzel
·Columnist
·5-min read

If your boss calls, or even worse, the security force that works for your boss calls, and asks why you were in a gentlemen’s club when you most certainly weren’t allowed to be in a gentlemen’s club, because being in gentlemen’s club during a global pandemic is not exactly what the CDC, let alone the NBA, would advise, then a decent answer, considering there are no good answers, might be that you just stopped in briefly to pick up some food.

That’s it, just picking up some chicken wings (while wearing a mask, of course). It was completely innocent. It’s almost no different than picking up dinner anywhere, except, of course, it offers the kind of scenery you generally can’t get at, say, the McDonald’s drive-thru.

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So at least Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers has that going for him.

“... Magic City … [has] got the best wings in the city,” Williams later retweeted on Twitter.

It might. Magic City, the famed downtown Atlanta gentlemen’s club, absolutely might be the best place in town to get some wings. Williams would know (he also hyped Blue Flame, another gentlemen’s club in the city, for its wings).

Williams grew up in Atlanta and played for Atlanta from 2012-14. Magic City is just a few blocks from the Hawks’ home court, and its signature wings are literally named after him: “Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings,” the menu reads.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08: LA Clippers guard Lou Williams (23) sits at half court during the Los Angeles Lakers game versus the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday March 8, 2020, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Lou Williams will have to quarantine for 10 days. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Understanding that Williams was in Atlanta on an approved absence from the NBA bubble to attend his grandfather’s funeral, was about to head back to Orlando, and thus incapable of getting some of those beloved Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings until potentially mid-October ... then you can hardly blame LouWill for trying to load up.

Except, well, there’s a billion-dollar operation called the NBA season, not to mention the Clippers’ championship hopes, resting on him either a) sending someone else into the joint or b) just going home, calling GrubHub and settling for WingStop or something. (Magic City also offers “curbside pickup.”)

Williams got busted when he appeared in a photo from inside Magic City that was posted on Instagram by recording artist Jack Harlow, who might now be known as “Snitch the Rapper.”

“That’s something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Harlow tried to claim it was an old photo, but that wasn’t true. Williams was wearing the very mask the NBA issued him just weeks ago in Orlando.

Williams fessed up immediately and said he was just there for the food. Either way, he wasn’t social distancing from Harlow, who was not at Magic City to merely pick up a snack.

The intent really doesn’t matter here. In the annals of great NBA comedic episodes, it echoes back to the 2016 Olympics when three members of Team USA claim they “accidentally” walked into a Rio de Janeiro brothel — which was located a 45-minute drive from their accommodations on a cruise ship — and then, recognizing their error, immediately left … after having a drink, of course.

Except that was just funny. This is funny too, but it is also different.

There was no threat of the Olympics getting shut down. Here, who knows what would have happened if Harlow hadn’t posted the picture and Williams unknowingly contracted the virus and an unaware NBA didn’t quarantine him long enough and it ripped through the Clippers, or even other teams?

Lemon pepper wings? The Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings in Atlanta is what might have derailed a $170 million bubble in Orlando, not to mention the entire playoffs?

Williams is now under a 10-day quarantine. He probably could’ve gotten longer. Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes got 10 days just for picking up food in an unsecured area in Orlando — he basically crossed a line and briefly stepped outside the bubble.

In this case, the NBA had to try to answer an unexpected question: What do you get for Magic City?

“I can’t share much with his journey because I wasn’t on that journey with him,” Rivers said.

Williams will have plenty of explaining to do to his teammates. A three-time Sixth Man of the Year, the Clippers need him as they make a push for the championship (+325 at BetMGM to win it all). He’ll miss at least two games, plus deal with whatever physical and mental rust comes from an extensive quarantine.

At 33 years old with more than ample resources to have someone else grab a takeout order, there is obviously no excuse. It shows the peril of every sports league as it tries to navigate playing ball during a pandemic.

No matter how much you plan for the big stuff, it’s the strip-club chicken wings that can get you.

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