Dwight Howard was ratted on to the NBA’s anonymous tip line by a fellow player for not wearing a mask in the league’s Covid bubble, and in true 2020 fashion, instead of issuing a mea culpa and correcting his actions, Howard doubled down on stupidity.
In a video released Sunday night, Howard not only downplayed the seriousness of not wearing a mask in the bubble, but went a step further by telling the world he was against vaccination. The Lakers center reaffirmed that he would not be wearing a mask while in Orlando, adding he “didn’t know that the coronavirus be flying through the air looking for people,” as if viruses were discriminate hunters — not something that just happens to be in the air, which is why we should all wear a friggin’ mask.
It’s not up to Howard to determine what is and isn’t safe in the bubble. Yes, he’s correct in saying that the NBA’s setup in Orlando is one of the safest places in America right now because of the widespread regimented testing protocols and measures put in place, but these exist for a reason. When Howard proliferates his belief that masks aren’t important, or vaccines are bad it doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it tells the world that these kind of rules aren’t that important. When he doubles down on his incorrect assertion out of stubbornness it’s not “bravery,” it’s selfishness. Especially considering that NBA players have seen the risks of Covid-19 firsthand. Karl-Anthony Towns lost his mother to the virus three months ago, and numerous other players have either tested positive, or know people who have battled the virus.
Of course, this is all before we get to the topic of being anti-vaccines, which similarly enough to being against masks is a selfish personal choice that impacts others. Except this time more reprehensibly directed at children, rather than adults who can make their own decisions. It goes without saying that being against vaccines has no basis in logic or science, and is particularly dangerous at a time where inane conspiracy theories are rife that the entire Covid pandemic is part of a global plan to microchip people for mind control purposes.
The predictable retort to all this is to harken back to LeBron James’ run in with Laura Ingraham when she told him to “stick to sports” when it came to social justice issues. To bend the Dwight Howard narrative and say there’s a double standard where James can speak freely, but Howard can’t. The gap in logic here is evident. A person of color is innately able to discuss racism and prejudice because of their first hand experience. By nature of being a minority they have expertise in this area. Howard, who isn’t a doctor or a scientist, doesn’t have the same luxury to hide behind “this is just my opinion,” because his opinion on the topic is without merit or substance, it simply exists to obfuscate a clear, and obvious message that it’s responsible in a larger social contract to do what we can to protect others, even if that means a small personal sacrifice like having the discomfort of wearing a mask.
If we want sports to exist in 2020 we need players to lead by example and epitomize how we should all be acting, even in the relative safety of the NBA bubble. To not even be able to adhere to the NBA’s most basic guidelines Howard puts everyone else at risk. The only saving grace is that Dwight Howard isn’t good enough any more to be that influential.