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Lakers’ Dwight Howard is worried NBA’s return might distract from more important matters

Lakers' Dwight Howard during a game against Dallas at Staples Center on Dec. 1, 2019.
Dwight Howard looks on against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Dec. 1, 2019.
(Katharine Lotze / Getty Images)

As the NBA attempts to restart its season amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racism, some players have expressed concern that basketball could prove to be a distraction.

One of those is Lakers center Dwight Howard.

“Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction,” Howard said in a statement provided to CNN. “Sure, it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand a majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop.

“Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just too beautiful to pass up. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families?”

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A look at notable games and performances in sports over the years on June 14, including the Lakers securing NBA championships in 1987 and 2009.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving led a conference call last week with a group of players in which he expressed concerns about the league’s plans to restart. This came after the National Basketball Players Assn. agreed to the framework presented by the NBA to resume play at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in July, pending further negotiations.

Several Lakers have publicly stated their desire to continue the season, including LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and the team’s player representatives, Danny Green and Jared Dudley, who have stressed the financial ramifications of the players not agreeing to resume. It could cause their current collective bargaining agreement to be voided, leading to significant financial losses for players. The Lakers are also hoping to finish a season in which they seemed poised to make a deep playoff run and had championship aspirations.

“Some of us want to hoop and compete don’t get that twisted,” Kuzma said Friday on Twitter.

In the early weeks after the league shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak, James expressed a desire to resume the season. James, though, has not made any public statements about resuming the season in months. Since mid-May, all of his posts on Twitter have been about the calls for justice for Black people and against police brutality.

Clippers guard Lou Williams shared concerns about the effect basketball could have on the protests, though he clarified that he did not say he wouldn’t play.

“If we had a game today and u leave a protest to watch it. That’s a distraction,” Williams said on Twitter. “Any questions? ... Be cool. Keep fightin.”

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Drawing attention away from the protests is one concern players have expressed. Others include the time away from their loved ones, most of whom would not be able to join them or attend their games in Florida, and health concerns related to COVID-19.

Lakers guard Danny Green took part in two recent protests following the death of George Floyd because “it seems as if it’s the only way to be heard.”

Howard believes his time would be better spent with his family. He has spent the last three months in his Atlanta-area home with his children.

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“This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of,” Howard’s statement read.

“When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families?” Howard said. “This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out.

“The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”


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