Over the last few days, a lot has been made about the NBA coalition that Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley are spearheading, how it could affect the number of players that go to Orlando to finish the season. While the general belief is that there aren’t enough players willing to sit out to put the season in jeopardy, there’s the possibility that two players from one team decide to stay home — a possibility that’s looking increasingly likely for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only has Bradley been vocal about the change he’d like to see in the NBA when it comes to their role in the ongoing civil rights movement in the United States; Dwight Howard has also publicly opposed the restart of the season on multiple occasions, saying “we need to focus on what’s going on.”
However, in a statement to The Athletic, Howard said that he nor his colleagues are trying to stop the NBA from returning — rather, they’re hoping that the discussions they have with the NBA and the actions they take lead to change in the league.
Lakers' Dwight Howard in statement to @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency...Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to." pic.twitter.com/dfTlSPBwpV— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 17, 2020
Lakers center Dwight Howard: “Leaders sometimes become self serving and forget the people that they are supposed to represent...We support the NBA but in order to do that properly we must support every single one of us that represents that name." https://t.co/OAhwAkdoM2— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 17, 2020
The Lakers reportedly expect Howard to travel with them to Orlando, but Howard and Bradley don’t have to make that decision until June 24. While the Lakers would surely love to have Bradley and Howard with them for the team’s first playoff appearance in seven years, they also have to be respectful of their decision to stand up for what they believe in and draw lines where they don’t feel comfortable.
Basketball is something that brings us all together — especially in a team-based community like this one — but at the end of the day, it’s just a game, and if the players that bring us so much joy throughout the year are unhappy, then who are we to question their decision to play, or their reason for sitting out? If Bradley and Howard don’t play for the Lakers again this season, it won’t be because they want to stay home; it will be be because they feel like they have to in order to make a difference.