This is why players inside the NBA’s campus for the restart of the season have to wear masks when outside their rooms or not on the basketball court. While the goal of the NBA’s “bubble” is to keep the virus on the outside — essentially to keep the rest of Florida out of their restart campus — the league has protocols in place to limit the spread should it get inside. Masks are critical to that.
When calls came into the league’s anonymous tip line, one was for Lakers’ center Dwight Howard for not wearing his mask around campus, something he owned up to on an Instagram Live chat (hat tip Dave McMenamin ESPN).
Howard said he was reported to the NBA Campus Hotline, set up to help protect players and staff participating in the league’s restart in Orlando, Florida, and received a warning for not covering his face with a mask.
“Somebody told on me,” Howard said Wednesday in an Instagram Live post, broadcast to his 2.7 million followers.
The NBA’s 113-page restart handbook does not lay out a punishment plan for violations of mask-wearing/social distancing in the campus. For now, Howard gets a slap on the wrist and everyone moves along. If it continues, the NBA can reconsider its options.
Several players have come out publicly and said they would not call the tip line, essentially making the “snitches get stitches” argument. Other players have told NBC Sports off the record their health and livelihood are at stake, so if there is a serious violation they would call. Of course, there’s the incentive of trying to get a key player for another team in trouble as well.
Howard has become a key player for the Lakers, giving them 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a night in 19 minutes off the bench, plus playing quality defense. Los Angeles is going to need him to continue that during the playoffs, with Howard and JaVale McGee giving the Lakers quality minutes at the five so Anthony Davis can thrive at the four.
Dwight Howard needs to stay on the floor, which in part means wearing his mask off it.