In a statement sent to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Lakers center Dwight Howard said that the players’ coalition expressing concerns with the NBA’s Orlando restart plan isn’t looking to derail the resumption of the season.
“Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency on the things that concern us collectively,” Howard said. “Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to.
“… In a time like this where we are fighting for equal rights, it would be contradictory if we told our own players to not play and do as we say,” Howard continued. “We are not here to dictate, nor do we have the power to do so. We want to make sure communication is taking place openly without fear. … If any one of us chooses to sit, it has nothing to do with another player’s right to play. Not once has any of us told one of our fellow brethren not to go to the Orlando Bubble Experiment and we stressed that in our meetings.”
A report earlier this week indicated that Kyrie Irving, who has been one of the leaders of the coalition voicing concerns about the NBA’s restart, has encouraged his Nets teammates not to go to Orlando. Howard’s statement suggests that’s not the case. The veteran big man added that he and other members of the players’ coalition are “in full support of our brothers whether we decide to enter or not enter the Orlando bubble.”
Here’s more on the NBA’s resumption:
- Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said earlier this week that Irving and Howard “have a point” and that he doesn’t feel “100 percent comfortable” about resuming the season this summer, but that he’s willing to take the risk because of the impact that players’ salvaged salaries can have on their communities. “I can only speak for myself — but I think it goes for other guys as well — we are the financial support for our families and for a lot of our community,” Lillard said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We bring a lot of that financial responsibility to support black businesses in black communities. So it makes a lot of sense for us (to return), from that standpoint.”
- Even as the positive test rate and total number of COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said this week during a CNBC appearance that he’s confident in the NBA’s return-to-play plan, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “Statistically, it’s actually going to be safer to be in a bubble in Orlando than to stay home and go to a grocery store, so this has been very well thought through and I feel very confident that we will be in Orlando in a few weeks,” Ranadive said.
- Bucks forward Kyle Korver said this week during a conversation with Richard Jefferson (video link) that he’d be willing to sit out the restart if his black teammates and friends felt it was the best way to bring about change, as Joe Coles of The Deseret News details.
- The NBPA issued a press release on Wednesday that discussed a series of social-justice issues and initiatives and noted that the union is considering ideas for how players “can effectively continue their advocacy on the national stage occasioned by the games” in Orlando this summer.