As the NBA and National Basketball Players Association continue to negotiate over the whether or not to resume the 2019-20 season, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving led a video conference call for various players around the league to voice any concerns they had about the season starting again, and among several players to speak up on the call was reportedly Lakers center Dwight Howard.
Shams Charania of The Athletic had the details:
Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard among others spoke out about possibly sitting out due to social/COVID-19 issues, per sources. NBPA leadership, Paul/Garrett Temple, provided insight too. Every player had a voice — wants to find purpose, whether they play or not.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports provided a few more details on what Howard had to say:
Howard said the time is now to take a stand and to use their collective power to implement change in the justice system and how police treat people of color instead of playing, sources said.
It’s important to note a few things. For one, Howard is totally within his rights to not want to play, just as any player who doesn’t want to go to Orlando is, for whatever reasons they don’t want to go. It might be hard to imagine not wanting to finish out the redemption arc of a season Howard has had and take his first real shot at a title, but real life is bigger than basketball. In addition to the social stance Howard took on the call, we have to mention that him and his family have just experienced real, first-hand loss, as the mother of one of his children recently passed away (via the L.A. Times):
One day in late March, the Lakers center was thinking about inviting Melissa Rios, the mother of his 6-year-old son, to stay with them for a while and wait out the pandemic together. Before he could make the offer, his phone rang with devastating news.
Rios had died after having an epileptic seizure. She was 31.
“It’s extremely difficult for me to try to understand how to talk to my son who’s 6 years old, just about the whole situation,” Howard said Friday during a video call with reporters. “Something I’ve never experienced, so I wouldn’t know how to talk to my son about it.”
If Howard wants to stay home to stay with his kids and not go away from them for months, just doesn’t want to risk his health, or simply doesn’t feel comfortable participating in a distraction from our current societal issues (or all of the above), everyone should understand that. We don’t know his final decision, but we all should be aware that it’s possible not every Laker will want to come back, and they’re entitled to that deeply personal, individual choice.
What this further highlights is that players’ reasoning for not wanting to head to Orlando may go far beyond basketball concerns, and that their choice, regardless of how much you want to see your favorite team play again, or how much you want a certain player to be a part of it, shouldn’t be judged too harshly. We’re all going through an unprecedented time in human history, and all we can hope for out of this news is that Howard got to feel like he was heard by his fellow players and ends up making the best decision for himself and his family.
If Howard does sit out, the Lakers will have an open roster spot to sign a replacement during the league’s transaction window at some point before the season begins.
For those of you looking for more general updates on the call as we all try to figure out if the NBA is coming back or not, here are a few other tweets from various insiders regarding what happened on the call:
Amid his reservations on restarting season, Kyrie Irving has lent a strong voice to ongoing call w/ NBA players tonight. One player in text: "He's trying to give players a platform to be able to have a discussion -- on the bubble, racial equality and unity...It's a good call."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2020
Sources: Kyrie Irving led a call of 80-plus NBA players, including Chris Paul/Kevin Durant/Carmelo Anthony/Donovan Mitchell, and Irving and several players spoke up about not supporting resumed season due to nationwide unrest from social injustice/racism.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Source: Kyrie Irving has been active on the ongoing call with 80 or so NBA players: “In Orlando, you’re taking a big risk. … I want to put the power in our hands.”— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 13, 2020
Yahoo Sources: Kyrie Irving led inspiring conference call centered on unity, systemic racism, investing in communities with 80-plus players that included WNBA players. Opinions were voiced, questions answered and a common theme established: Whatever we do, we’re in this together.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 13, 2020
Kyrie Irving told NBA players on call Friday, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy."— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Yahoo Sources: The conference call led by Kyrie Irving lasted an hour and forty minutes. The Nets star let it be known he was against going to Orlando, but said he would ultimately stand with the group if they decided to play.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 13, 2020
Kyrie Irving on players call Friday, per sources: “I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform)."— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Yahoo Sources: Players offered different perspectives with some in favor of not returning-to-play and those citing financial ramifications as a reason for a season resumption. The WNBA players spoke on their league issues and vowed to stand in unity with the NBA players.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 13, 2020
Sources: It was a wide-ranging call with 80 or so NBA players, and multiple voices. Kyrie, CP3, Melo all vocal.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 13, 2020
One quote from Kyrie: “There’s only 20 guys actually getting paid, and I’m part of that. Let’s not pretend there’s not a tiered system purposely to divide all of us.”
Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for more coverage of the NBA’s restart attempts.