Could Los Angeles Lakers center, Dwight Howard be suspended for not wearing a mask while inside the Orlando Bubble?
With the NBA being moved into a bubble in Orlando with only players, some of their families, and essential personnel for the safety of all involved, it is important now more than ever that all players follow the guidelines that the league has put in place for the safety of all players involved and for the odds of the season being able to be completed.
However, one Lakers player could be part of the issue if the league does go back on shutdown and could be facing a suspension if the season does follow the schedule and complete as planned.
That player is Dwight Howard. Before the move to the bubble, it was speculated if Howard would even make the trip with the team and join them in Orlando to finish the season as he was a part of the group call with Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving about whether the NBA would be a distraction to the current protests for change that are going on around the country.
As we found out, Howard would join the team in Orlando and is planning to play a key role for the team. However, it appears that he could be causing issues in the bubble.
It has been reported that Howard has been reported to the hotline that has been deemed the “NBA snitch hotline” to call about people who are breaking the rules of the bubble. Howard has been reported multiple times for not wearing a mask while out and about in the bubble.
Howard has confirmed the reports that he has not been wearing a mask and has even doubled down on his decision. In an interview, Howard was quoted as saying:
“It was pointless for somebody to tell that I didn’t have a mask on by myself, I don’t even know when this would’ve happened. I just think everybody’s making a big deal out of it. But I feel like we’re in the safest place in Orlando. We get tested every day. So we’re only around each other.”
He went on to say:
“I personally don’t see a risk of us getting it during the time period that we’re here,” Howard said. “We’re not allowed to leave the bubble. We’re only around each other every day. I just feel like it would be pointless for somebody to say anything. I understand outside of this bubble, wearing a mask in different places is very important. So I wouldn’t say that it’s not needed. But since we are here in this bubble and we’re the only ones here, and the staff and everyone is getting tested every day, I feel like we’re safe.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated that he wants his players to wear masks where they are required. However, with the league looking into the situation at hand it could mean that Howard would be on a self-quarantine for a short amount of time, however, if he does not begin to wear a mask it is possible that the self quarantining could overlap important games that the Lakers need him in or even could lead to a suspension.
If the Lakers were to be without Howard going into the playoffs, things would be looking very bleak for them in a playoff series against other elite teams like the Clippers. Howard is the best players off of the Lakers bench and there is a case to be made that he is more than qualified to take the starting role at the center position.
This season he has averaged 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in only 19.2 minutes per game. With this extreme production in such a short amount of time on the court missing Howard during the playoffs could be the difference between a disappointing exit and a Finals win.
It will be very interesting if Howard will begin to wear a mask or if he will continue to be reported to the campus hotline and what the league will do about it. For now, the Lakers are scheduled to take the court again July 24th against the Dallas Mavericks in what should be a great game and much-needed basketball for Lakers and NBA fans everywhere.