Former Clippers reprobate Keith Closs (or someone pretending to be him) once made a brief public statement in this space, refuting David Roth’s claim the former had once signed an autograph for a child, “Fuck Tha World, Keith Closs”. “It’s only so obvious that you don’t know me and probably never will,” wrote Closs (or his self-appointed spokesperson), though it seems Slam’s Matt Caputo has been granted more humble insights. “Nobody disrespected the game of basketball like I did,” declares a contrite, working-on-sobriety Closs, who apparently has never watched the celebrity game during All-Star Weekend.
During the ’99-00 season, his last in the NBA, Closs felt alienated from his teammates. He had verbal altercations with Michael Olowokandi and Maurice Taylor and skipped practice when he was hung over. He also took his drinking to a new level. Closs says he started mixing alcohol in his water bottle that last go-round. He’d sometimes pop open emergency exits at the Staples Center at halftime to smoke marijuana in uniform. He says he even passed the blunt to a late-arriving fan one time. In the decade-plus since his last NBA game, Closs says he has come to understand why his name was tarnished around the League.
“I was out there dunking on dudes smelling like three bars, then they’d take me out and I would refresh my water bottle,” Closs says.
One memorable and telling incident occurred during the ’04-05 season, when a bottle-tapping, blunt-smoking Closs played for the now-defunct CBA Rockford Lightning under coach Chris Daleo. Rockford’s bus picked Closs up at a highway rest area outside Detroit en route to a game in Birch Run, MI. That night the Lightning lost to the Great Lakes Storm and Closs never returned to his hotel room after the game. The next morning, he was found heavily intoxicated and asleep underneath a police Christmas tree. “I was the biggest gift the Lansing Police Department ever got! There wasn’t shit to do but get drunk in those cities,” Closs says. “Even the residents said so.”