Howard stands with Irving: Playing would be a 'distraction' from issues

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Following a Friday conference call in which Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving reportedly voiced his opposition to the NBA's proposed return to play in late July, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard publicly supported the sizeable group of players with reservations.

"I agree with Kyrie," Howard said in a statement to CNN's Jill Martin on Saturday. "Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction."

Howard, one of the 80-plus players on Friday's call, was reportedly among those who expressed a willingness to withdraw from the season due to pandemic-related health risks and the ongoing discourse regarding social justice issues. The 34-year-old echoed that sentiment in his statement Saturday.

"European colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out," Howard said. "The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. ... No basketball (until) we get things solved.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are expected to agree to a rule that would allow players to sit out for the remainder of the season while forfeiting a portion of their salary.

Howard is enjoying a minor renaissance during his return to Los Angeles. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is averaging career lows of 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in just over 19 minutes per game, but he's playing a key supporting role alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

At 49-14 (.778), the Lakers remain among the title favorites when the season resumes.

"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA championship," Howard added. "But the unity of my people would be an even bigger championship, that's just too beautiful to pass up."

Howard stands with Irving: Playing would be a 'distraction' from issues
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