LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – This time, it seemed appropriate for Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard to become unmasked.
Howard expressed annoyance for someone recently reporting him to the NBA’s Campus Hotline for not wearing a mask at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“It was pointless for somebody to tell that I didn’t have a mask on by myself,” Howard said Saturday in a video conference call with reporters. “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.”
According to the NBA’s 113-page document of health and safety protocols, all players, coaches and staff members are required to wear a mask and maintain social-distancing rules once they leave their hotel rooms. But players are permitted to take their masks off during practices, scrimmages and games. They can also take off their mask if they are eating outside by themselves or running.
“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.”
Dwight Howard during a Lakers game in February. (Photo: Nelson Chenault, USA TODAY Sports)
Howard reported about the indiscretion during an Instagram Live chat on Wednesday. On Friday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, “we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby and the areas that we’re being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask.”
People have called the league’s campus hotline only a handful of times over minor transgressions. Still, Houston’s Bruno Caboclo and Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes have to spend additional days in quarantine after leaving the Disney campus.
“I don’t personally think it’s that serious in the sense of no one doing anything that is harmful,” Lakers forward Jared Dudley said. “Someone not having a mask on at one point in time, they could’ve been on the phone or just got done taking a test or just got done at a meal they just ate.”
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