Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has not decided whether to play if the NBA resumes amid the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, according to his agent Charles Briscoe.
The NBA is planning to restart the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 season via a 22-team format at Walt Disney World Resort in July after the campaign was suspended in March.
However, eight-time All-Star Howard believes the return of the NBA would be an unwelcome distraction from the importance of the anti-racism and social injustice protests in the United States as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving leads calls for basketball not to resume.
There have been nationwide protests after George Floyd – an African-American man – was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Responding to Howard's statement on Sunday, Briscoe told ESPN: "The statement was about social injustice and racism. Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played.
"He isn't saying that basketball shouldn't be. He's just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what's going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day.
"But what's going on with people dying in the streets, that's something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice."
Howard issued a statement via his agent to CNN, which read: "I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction.
"Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don't have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now.
"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 to [sic] 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!! European Colonisation stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves.
"Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."Published 15 Jun 2020, 05:46 IST