This season, Dwight Howard has the opportunity to win his first-ever NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers — the same team he famously left in 2013. From a basketball standpoint, it would be a Hollywood-scripted ending to his redemption story, and a great climax in the third act of his Hall of Fame career.
That being said, basketball isn’t on the forefront of Howard’s mind right now. On Saturday, Howard’s agent released a statement on his behalf via Jill Martin of CNN, in which Howard stated that he doesn’t think the season should resume until “we get things resolved” with racial equality in the United States.
Howard’s agent, Charles Briscoe, added additional context to his client’s comments in an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, and said that Howard hasn’t decided whether or not he will play this season:
The Lakers were initially concerned that Howard planned to sit out the rest of the season to focus on the social injustices facing Black and African-Americans in this country based on the sentiments he shared on the call and the subsequent statement he issued, sources told ESPN.
Howard’s agent, Charles Briscoe, told ESPN on Sunday that his client hasn’t made a decision about playing basketball again this season because basketball is the furthest thing from his mind at this moment.
“The statement was about social injustice and racism,” Briscoe said. “Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played. He isn’t saying that basketball shouldn’t be. He’s just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what’s going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day. But what’s going on with people dying in the streets, that’s something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice.”
While negotiations are ongoing, the expectation is that if players like Howard are uncomfortable with resuming (and finishing) the season in Orlando, they’ll be able to stay home without facing disciplinary action from the NBA. But Howard’s teammates are optimistic that they’ll be able to get on the same page before the season’s supposed to restart on July 30:
Some of Howard’s teammates told ESPN there is still time for the team to come together as a unified front before training camp begins later this month. https://t.co/8Ps4ZQWN3h— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 14, 2020
If Howard does decide to stay home, the Lakers will have a glaring hole to fill behind JaVale McGee at the center position. Howard has averaged 7.5 points per game on 73.2% shooting from the field, in addition to 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
Suffice to say, the NBA and its players will have to make some tough calls over the next few weeks. We’ll see how it affects the Lakers, both on and off the court.