In a postgame interview following the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss to their city rival Lakers, Lou Williams stated, “I was in the league pre-load management,” and plans on playing every game of the upcoming season. Williams did add that he would manage his load if he were told to do so by the Clippers coaching staff, which is likely, given the growing evidence from sports scientists that rest reduces the risk of an athlete getting injured. Williams’ comment on load management seems to be a shot at his teammate Kawhi Leonard, who is famous for taking games off throughout his career, particularly as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
Lou Williams criticizing Leonard’s load management has been speculated in the past. In October of this year, Williams denied the claims of an article published by Bleacher Report that accused him and Montrezl Harrell of “bristling” at Kawhi’s supposed freedom to manage his load; Williams said he didn’t even know what “bristle” means. However, Williams’ comments following his 12 point outing on Sunday night might be evidence of underlying tension between the two stars after all.
The media has criticized stars, particularly Kawhi, for sitting out games, citing fans wanting to see their favorite player perform, but in a season in which there will be no fans in the stadiums, that argument does not seem to apply anymore. It will be interesting to see how Leonard and Williams play together in the upcoming COVID shortened season, and if this tension will come out over the course of the next 72 games. Interestingly, Williams, in his 15 seasons in the NBA, has yet to play an entire season or win a championship; this season could be the one where both happen.