It was just last week when Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was “snitched” on for getting caught not wearing a mask while walking around the NBA bubble campus. Right now, the league is very committed to keeping every player free of COVID-19 and though Howard said he wasn’t around anybody, the NBA would rather be safe than sorry. Even when players are talking to the media virtually, they are now supposed to wear masks.
This led to Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum to take an unprompted jab at the Lakers big man.
“I’m wearing the mask and no one is around me,” McCollum said, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “I just wanted you guys to know that.”
He’s clearly poking fun at Howard as he’s the biggest name in the bubble who is having issues with mask-wearing. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently made it clear that the big man needs to wear a mask so it’s unlikely he’ll get caught maskless on campus anymore.
Jared Dudley Understands Howard
While there are those who question why Howard wouldn’t just wear a mask, Jared Dudley can follow his logic.
“I can understand Dwight’s point of view, somewhat,” Dudley said, via David Aldridge of The Athletic. “We test every day. Everyone, we’re in the bubble, everyone’s negative, so why would you? Let’s be honest – you’re doing it (as) precaution. Why not? That’s basically what your reason is. And so I understand. My whole thing is, we do work out against each other, so we’re trying to get the best percentages. How is someone going to get the Corona in here? That’s a great question to ask.”
It may seem superfluous for some to wear a mask while being in the NBA bubble, but the league isn’t going to risk anything. They don’t have trackers on these players so they can’t know what they’re doing at all times. It could take just one player to cause the whole NBA reboot to completely fail.
There’s also the optics factor. There’s a big push to get people to wear a mask around the country and seeing the biggest stars in the NBA wearing them could help.
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There Are Those Who Think Blazers Will Beat Lakers
Though McCollum’s Blazers need some help to sneak into the NBA playoffs, there are those who think they match up well with the Lakers. That includes former LeBron James teammate Channing Frye, who thinks the loss of Rajon Rondo is going to seriously hurt the team.
“Rondo going down is huge for the Lakers, because playoff Rondo, and everyone says it, and I’ve seen it, is a absolute different beast,” Frye said on the NBA Hang Time podcast. “I don’t care if anybody agrees or not. I’m telling you this. Playoff Rondo would have been difficult for Damian Lillard or CJ [McCollum].
“Whichever one he’s guarding. But now that he’s not playing, that’s a tough first-round matchup for the Los Angeles Lakers to go against a physical, battle-tested team. Where, yes, LeBron [James], is the best player on the court and then AD [Anthony Davis]. But then on the other side, the Lakers have no answer for CJ and Dame. So, I’m taking my chances.”
That echoes what NBA legend Charles Barkley has said. These thoughts are patently absurd. Rondo has not been a difference-maker all year and the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference while the Blazers are under .500. There’s simply no way they will be able to derail a focused Lakers team that features James and Anthony Davis.