Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has undergone an incredible transformation this season. Before signing with L.A., many had concerns over Howard’s personality and it being a negative presence in the locker room.
However, he quickly proved that this season would be different, becoming not only a great role player on the court, but a leader off of it. This has become especially true in recent weeks, as the NBA has discussed its return to play amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and protests fighting racial injustice.
Howard has become one of the leading voices for those who may not want to return to play, citing the distraction that the NBA can cause that would take focus away from the issues of injustice.
Howard spoke about the return of the season, explaining that he would love to play again, but more important things need to be addressed first, via“CNN Tonight”:
“That’s the first thing I want people to understand: I want to win a championship so bad. Going to L.A., for me, has been the best thing in my life and I’m very appreciative of just being on that team. Playing with LeBron, playing with A.D., just representing the Lakers again has meant the world to me. I just personally have seen so much pain from our people.
“I just feel like our people, we need attention. I really feel like our world is hurting right now. There’s so much stuff going on in our world, that I just feel like we don’t need to get distracted by anything. I would definitely want to play and win a championship, but I don’t want anything to distract us from what’s going on in our world. It’s hurting me, it’s hurting my family, it’s hurting all of our families. Everybody is feeling it right now. I just think we need to focus on what’s going on.”
Howard’s view point is one that is shared by a number of NBA players. While fans and players have been anxiously awaiting the return of basketball, having games to focus on instead of racial injustices will give people something else to talk about.
Shifting the conversation to the results of games would mean putting off discussing ways we can bring about real change in the United States and throughout the world. While the expectation remains basketball will return this season, it may look extremely different in terms of the discussion that will take place when games aren’t being played.