Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was one of the NBA’s most vocal figures about social injustice prior to coming to the Walt Disney World bubble. It was because of that it took almost until the last minute for him to decide to join the team in Orlando.
When he did, Howard said he was doing so in order to help keep the conversation about social justice going, opting to donate his entire bubble salary to his “Breathe Again” foundation. However, once getting into the bubble, some other things have taken over the national discussion.
One of those is the NBA’s hotline set up for players to report violations of league rules. Howard was one of the players who was called out for not wearing a mask in a place where it was required for him to do so.
“I mean, I just thought it was pointless for somebody to tell when I didn’t have a mask on by myself. I don’t even know when this would’ve happened,” Howard said. “I just think everybody is making a big deal out of it.
“I feel like we’re in the safest place in Orlando. We get tested every day, we’re only around each other, we can’t practice with masks on. I personally don’t see a risk of us getting it during the time period that we’re here.”
Howard then shifted the conversation, trying to re-focus the conversation on a larger issue of injustice. “I can’t complain, got to stay locked in on what the mission is. Besides the mission of basketball, I still want to continue to keep up awareness of what’s going on outside of the bubble,” Howard said. “There’s things that have been happening that we still need to discuss.
“Breonna Taylor, the people who did the heinous incident against her, they’re still free and out there living their best life. I think instead of worrying about if I have my mask on or not, I think that’s something we should be discussing. Why haven’t these people been brought in, charged with anything or even arrested?
“That’s not right. There’s families out there mourning, white and black are being killed by cops. And the topic of discussion is who doesn’t have a mask on and people snitching. Let’s not forget why we are here.”
It was an extremely poignant message from Howard, who seems frustrated with the minor details of the bubble being discussed far more than the tragedies happening in our world every day.
While entertainment is important, and sports are meant to provide an escape from reality, the players made it very clear that they didn’t want this to be a distraction. They wanted to use the bubble as a chance to shine an even brighter light on the issues.
Whether or not Howard wears a mask when he leaves his hotel room is meaningless when compared to the things that are happening in the United States and around the world.
Jared Dudley not taking NBA ‘snitch’ hotline seriously
Although the Lakers had one of their players reprimanded because of a report to the NBA hotline, veteran Jared Dudley isn’t putting much stock into it.
“I personally don’t take it that serious in the sense of there’s no one doing anything that’s harmful,” he said. “Someone not having a mask on at one point in time — they could have been on the phone, they could have just got done taking a test, leaving a meal room.
“No one is just walking around with no mask. I heard of Jimmy Butler dribbling a basketball. It’s like being in your house and having courtesy. If you have music on and it gets to 11 or 12 at night, lower your music. So I don’t take it serious in the sense of no one is doing anything harmful.
“Now, if you want to be petty and try to tell, we’re all in the same hotel and have the same rules. No one is getting any extra privileges. Maybe someone is not wearing a mask, or at six feet apart, but we test daily. We’re all negative. We’ve still got to live a life and make the best of the situation.”
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