Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Howard’s agent, Charles Briscoe, told Dave McMenamin of ESPN as much, noting his client is focused on the national conversation about systemic racism and police brutality and not thinking about basketball:
“The statement was about social injustice and racism. Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played. He isn’t saying that basketball shouldn’t be. He’s just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what’s going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day. But what’s going on with people dying in the streets, that’s something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice.”
Briscoe provided CNN’s Jill Martin with a statement from Howard saying “Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment and will only be a distraction” and the “unity of My People” is more important than winning a championship.
The Lakers signed Howard this offseason following an injury to DeMarcus Cousins.
McMenamin noted “Howard requested a non-guaranteed contract to prove to L.A. how much the opportunity meant to him after his first stint with the franchise went awry,” which helped the Lakers add him to a roster already featuring the hefty contracts of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported James is among those in favor of restarting the season and “believes playing in Orlando won’t deter his ability to continue inspiring change.”
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley believes James’ opinion will carry plenty of weight as the July 30 restart date approaches:
As for Howard, the veteran’s resurgence is one reason the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference. After playing just nine games last season as a member of the Washington Wizards, Howard is averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game as a valuable defensive presence off the bench.
He is no longer the prime version of himself who won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and was selected to eight All-NBA teams and eight All-Star Games, but he has played a key secondary role on a talented roster.
It remains to be seen whether he will continue doing so if the season restarts as planned.