“Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction… I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just too beautiful to pass up. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families? This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families? This is where our unity starts. At home! With Family!!”
Those are the words of Dwight Howard, who was among the players questioning the NBA’s restart in Orlando. He was grieving the loss of Melissa Rios, the mother of his 6-year-old son, David, and was looking at his family as the biggest priority in his life. As it should be. Howard also is committed to the Black Lives Matter movement and, as he stated, saw the NBA’s return as a distraction.
In the end, he has decided to play in the NBA restart and donate his checks the rest of this season to charity, something Howard announced on CNN (hat tip Dave McMenamin).
Dwight Howard on @donlemon Monday night: “I feel like we have a great opportinuty, the Lakers do, for winning the title this year … Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando.” He says he will donate the salary he earns in the bubble to the charity Breathe Again.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 7, 2020
Here is Howard’s full statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
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
That is about a $700,000 donation by Howard to Breathe Again.
Howard played a central role as a big man off the bench on a Lakers’ team that is the odds-on favorite to win it all. A ring would be the cherry on top of his Hall of Fame career.
Howard wants to be a part of that, but it means sacrificing time with family. He said it was not an easy decision, and he is putting his money where his mouth is donating his earnings to charity.
The thoughtfulness behind those decisions shows the kind of maturity Howard has grown into, even if fans never see it.