The two-year period between the last gasp of Lob City and the advent of the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George partnership was a funky time for the LA Clippers. Doc Rivers’ crew was no longer sitting at the big boy’s table, but they didn’t go gentle into that good night, either.
It was an overachieving bunch, and perhaps no player personified the overcoming of odds better than Lou Williams. On Monday, the former Clipper told Taylor Rooks that the 2021-22 NBA season will likely be his last.
In March, the Clippers moved on from Williams, sending him to the Atlanta Hawks for Rajon Rondo. It was a tough pill to swallow for the high-scoring vet, but it also served as a sign that it might be time to hang it up.
“In that moment, it was just closure,” Williams said of the trade. “I got drafted when I was 17, so I’m a jarhead. This is all I know. This is all I’ve ever known, as far as a career path. I’ve always been a basketball player, I’ve always known the structure of being in the NBA. You always think you’re prepared until it’s reality, and I know this is probably my last season, I’ll say that publicly, but I said it last time, so who knows?”
When pressed by Rooks to confirm that this would be his last season, Williams responded, “Potentially.”
“I have the clarity; I’m okay with that. But I’m also okay with continuing to play, if that’s where it takes me. I’m prepared for the worst.”
Lou Cried When the Clippers Traded Him
Over the course of his 16-plus years in the Association, Williams has had a lot of big games with a myriad of teams. The Sixers, Raptors, Lakers and Rockets all benifited from his bucket-getting aptitude in addition to the Clippers and Hawks. However, the time he spent in Los Angeles rocking the red, white and blue was arguably the high-water mark for his career.
In 261 games with the Clippers, Williams averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds per contest while hitting 36% of his triples. Along the way, he won two of his three NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards.
Going beyond the numbers and the accolades, though, Williams was a player who was deeply committed to the organization and its fans. So much so that he cried when the Clippers decided they were done with him.
“I had conversations with my family and my friends,” he said. “And I was like, ‘It’s over.’ I think this has come to an end and I kind of cried a little bit. I’ll be open about that. I kind of cried. I took a nap and I woke up. Then I just had a conversation with my agent and he was like, ‘Man, just take a deep breath and we’ll talk tomorrow.’
“I was on that wave. I just felt like I had put so much time, energy, and effort into creating this special place in LA. I felt like I owed that to the Clipper fans. I wanted to do that for that fanbase.”
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Williams on the GOAT Sixth Man
His potential retirement and deep-seated love for Clippers Nation weren’t the only news items to come out of the sit-down. Rooks also saw fit to ask Williams whether he thought that he was the greatest sixth man of all time.
“I think so,” he deadpanned, and his reasons are many:
The numbers. Lifestyle. I made it acceptable for young kids to look at somebody and have an example of somebody that took a position they were given and made the best out of it and made it look cool.
I don’t know if anybody else embraced coming off the bench and being the sixth man the way that I did and turned it into a lifestyle. And so, I got the numbers to back it up. I have the records to back it up. Have the trophies to back it up. So yeah I say that with a lot of confidence.
I feel like, you know, I put myself in a position possibly be a Hall-Of-Famer at some point based on being the best at my job.