Who narked on Dwight Howard? Well someone must have, because the Lakers big man got caught with his hand in the cookie jar earlier this week. Mandatory masks have been met with resistance among certain segments of the population (the Karen army has not been willing to play ball on that front), but in the Orlando bubble—where the NBA hopes to resume its COVID-interrupted 2019-20 campaign later this month—face coverings are not optional.
The NBA Campus Hotline, which many have jokingly referred to as the “Snitch Hotline,” was instituted to police player safety in the bubble amid a global pandemic that has claimed over 140,000 U.S. lives. Some wondered if players would be reluctant to use the hotline for fear of ratting out colleagues, but thankfully that hasn’t been the case. The NBA’s bubble contingent has been busy working the phones of late, flooding the hotline with anonymous tips of players not adhering to the league’s strict guidelines.
“Someone told on me,” Howard admitted during an Instagram Live stream earlier this week. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was apparently scolded for not wearing a mask, a big no-no on the NBA’s Disney campus. Howard seems to have recognized the error of his ways, donning a mask in a follow-up video filmed at Lakers practice. Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel acknowledged Howard’s mistake in a video call Friday, reiterating the need to follow the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, even if doing so is inconvenient.
“[My] reaction is that we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby," said Vogel, as transcribed by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “And the areas that we're being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask. And he's doing so now.”
At least Howard didn’t get put in timeout like Kings center Richaun Holmes or Bruno Caboclo of Houston, who were placed in mandatory 10-day quarantines for straying off-campus. Now in his second stint with L.A., the veteran Howard has been a helpful contributor off the bench this season, averaging 7.5 points on elite 73.2-percent shooting over 62 appearances including two starts for the top-seeded Lakers.