There was a time when Dwight Howard considered not joining the Lakers in the NBA bubble. He didn’t want to leave his family after having shared so much important time the last few months. He didn’t want to leave during a time he felt it was important to speak about social issues.
So on Saturday afternoon, when he spoke to reporters for the first time since entering the NBA’s campus in Florida, Howard chastised those who he felt had lost focus and those who had turned attention to him for what he feels are trivial reasons.
“Breonna Taylor, the people who did the heinous incident against her, they’re still free,” Howard said. “They’re out there living their best life. Instead of worrying about if I have my mask on or not, that’s something we should be discussing. Why haven’t these people been brought in? Why haven’t they been charged for anything or even arrested for what they’ve done?
“Instead of the topics being about who’s not wearing a mask in the bubble, who was at the DJ party, who wasn’t, all of these things seem entertaining. But we’re not going to forget about what’s going on around our world. Those cops, one of the cops just posted a picture of himself at the beach. How could you have a conscience? You just killed somebody. And you’re out at the beach with women. You killed a woman. And you’re out at the beach with some more women having a good old time. You know, that’s not right. There’s families out there mourning, white and black who’ve been killed by cops. Been killed through different things. The topic of discussion is who doesn’t have a mask on and people snitching. Let’s not forget why we are here.”
Taylor, a Black woman, was killed in March when police in Louisville, Ky., executed a no-knock warrant to enter her home as she slept and shot her eight times in an exchange of gunfire with her boyfriend. None of the officers have been charged. Howard was not the first player participating in the NBA’s restart to invoke her name. Denver forward Jerami Grant, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Miami forward Solomon Hill and Indiana guard Malcolm Brogdon have as well.
Howard was been the focus of some scrutiny this week after he said on Instagram that he had been reported to the NBA’s anonymous hotline meant to catch rule breakers for not wearing a mask. Howard rarely shows himself wearing a mask during his broadcasts. In one, he’s reminded by someone that the rules state he must wear a mask when he is inside and not at practice or in his room.
“The reaction is that we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby, and the areas that we’re being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “And he’s doing so now.”
On Saturday, Howard said he thought reporting him was pointless.
“Everybody’s making a big deal out of it,” Howard said. “But I feel like we’re in the safest place in Orlando. We get tested every day. So, we’re only around each other. We get tested every day. We can’t practice with masks on. I personally don’t see a risk of us getting it during the time period that we’re here.”
Howard’s concern about joining the NBA’s restart was never about safety. Part of it was worrying the restart would slow momentum for social change.
He has decided to use the remainder of his salary to benefit Breathe Again, a charity he is forming. They are working on a project to teach financial literacy to inner-city children and their parents in Atlanta.
Howard told a story about two children, one of whom was killed while they were trying to earn money by selling water and Gatorade. He attributed the violence to financial insecurity.
“Now a precious life has been taken away from these kids trying to do something positive,” Howard said. “And not understanding their power but not understanding how to save money. So I want to take it upon myself, and the rest of the guys in the community, and we want to guide these kids in the right direction.»