Weeks ago, after the NBA and NBPA announced that they had agreed to the terms for resuming the season in Orlando, several players voiced their concerns over playing in the current political and social climate. At the time, protests across the country in support of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality were raging and many NBA athletes joined in the demonstrations to make their voices heard. Protests are still ongoing but despite those concerns, as well as worries over how fail-proof the league’s “bubble” is in the midst of a raging pandemic, the season appears to be going on as scheduled.
Among the players that showed concerns over the NBA season being a distraction from more important issues were two Lakers: Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. Bradley opted to sit out of the remainder of the season, citing health concerns for his young child but Howard announced on Monday that he will join his teammates at Disney World, returning to the city where he started his career for a chance to reach the Finals for the first time since 2009 and potentially win his first championship.
Choosing to play in the remaining eight regular season games and the postseason is not stopping Howard from contributing in his community (specifically his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia), however. The Lakers’ backup center announced that he will donate his remaining game checks (a total of about $700,000) to his non-profit campaign Breathe Again.
Howard then released a statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic, describing his “passion” to “breathe life” into his community through youth programs.
The full statement can be read below:
Lakers center Dwight Howard tells @TheAthletic @Stadium: “My NBA salary and platform, while in the bubble, will be used to ignite a breath of fresh air into the community.” Full statement: pic.twitter.com/u4JlQ7q1ud
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 7, 2020
Through this entire process, Howard has been remarkably honest and transparent and it’s clear that these words are his own and not created by some PR person. That matters and it shows how important this issue is to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Howard lost the mother of his child to Coronavirus and saw his city be the setting for violent clashes between protestors and the police. It’s clearly been an entirely difficult time for him and no one could have faulted him for sitting out of the rest of the season.
The Lakers will be happy to have a valuable part of the team with them but Howard’s impact will be even larger off the court.