Lakers' Dwight Howard warned about not wearing mask after hotline tip

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020

There was a time when Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard received adulation for wearing a cape in the dunk contest. Now he's been disciplined for not wearing a mask in the NBA bubble.

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.

While the anonymous tip line was established in the name of safety as the NBA tries to navigate the potential pitfalls of playing sports in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it's picked up a nickname: the snitch hotline.

"I just thought it was pointless for someone to tell I didn't have a mask on by myself," Howard told reporters Saturday. "I don't even know when it happened.

"Everybody is making a big deal out of it, but I feel like we are in the safest place in Orlando. We get tested every day. If we are only around each other, we get tested every day, we can't practice with masks on, I personally don't see a risk of us getting it during the time period we are here."

For those who break the perimeter of the campus, as has already happened with the Sacramento Kings' Richaun Holmes and the Houston Rockets' Bruno Caboclo, the league has a strict protocol in place. Those individuals must enter into a 10-day quarantine, which includes a more invasive testing procedure.

There is no uniform punishment for those who are found to be violating social distancing guidelines, however. The league will handle violations as they come up in the manner necessary to keep the campus safe.

However unsavory it might be to have teams policing one another -- considering there could be a competition advantage gained by reporting an infraction -- if the players aren't guarded from a coronavirus spread in the bubble, there won't be games to be competitive about.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, speaking on a video conference call with reporters Friday, said he was aware of the warning to Howard.

"[My] reaction is that we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby," Vogel said. "And the areas that we're being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask. And he's doing so now."

Indeed, Howard posted another video to his Instagram story on Thursday. He was wearing a mask, covered in the NBA logo.

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