Dwight Howard, the L.A. Lakers 34-year-old center, was quoted over the weekend as saying “I didn’t know coronavirus be flying through the air looking for people.” The scientifically inaccurate quote came after Howard was spotted by multiple people around others while not wearing a mask. Howard would go on to claim that he had actually been alone doing his laundry, despite being seen talking to other people.
Someone inside the NBA bubble obviously objected, as Howard himself would tell it, the center was reported to the NBA’s anonymous hotline for quarantine violations. Howard responded by telling USA TODAY in part that “It was pointless for somebody to tell that I didn’t have a mask on by myself. I don’t even know when this would’ve happened. I just think everybody’s making a big deal out of it.” Because the only person who matters to Dwight Howard is apparently Dwight Howard. Some former teammates seem to agree:
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) June 20, 2018
In the same conversation, Howard would tell the newspaper, “I personally don’t see a risk of us getting it during the time period that we’re here. 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.”
This logic flies in the face of every piece of advice from medical experts as well as the league’s mandated protocols. It’s precisely this kind of thinking that leads experiments like this to collapse. Each individual justification, tolerance or exception creates a new point of failure, and the bubble can only withstand so much before a cascade of failures begins.
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It’s no real surprise that Howard is making waves about something, although he could have picked a better topic on which to make a misguided stance, the White House has this ground fairly well covered. Speaking of which, as of about 2 p.m. EST on Monday afternoon, a casual scan of the 508 accounts that Howard follows on Instagram was all it took to verify that he is still following at least one of these accounts openly associated with the absurd QAnon conspiracy theory group as first outed on Twitter.
Sorry to report that LA Lakers' Dwight Howard appears to be following three clear QAnon accounts on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/ZfPkjMYRky
— Italien Feeld📉 (@julianfeeld) July 11, 2020
QAnon is not worth your Google search or your time. They’re a group of lonely people who used to be the isolated weirdo who never bothered anyone, each confined to their own town. Now they connect on the internet and breed theories like the existence of an anonymous insider known as Q, who is “leaking information” about the pending charges that are sure to drop any day now and expose (insert enemy of the Conservative Right) once and for all. Somehow the other shoe never drops. Meanwhile the foot is being dragged across broken glass.
Howard is known as a difficult teammate who airs his contract grievances and other in-house disputes publicly and who is not a willing contributor when it comes to crunch time. Kobe Bryant took issue with Howard for this in 2015, telling SB Nation “But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it’s very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don’t think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature.”
Howard took the ridiculousness and wildly inaccurate rant to Thanksgiving dinner levels of conspiracy theory later in the afternoon on Sunday. In an Instagram Live video that has since gone viral, Howard answers a viewer’s question and confirms that he does not believe in vaccinations.
Here is the clip from Dwight Howard’s Instagram Live saying he does not believe in vaccinations . pic.twitter.com/MJqV2UwieI
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) July 19, 2020
Dwight Howard uses a key phrase that you hear in this sort of science-denying nonsense quite often “my opinion.” At some point, probably around the advent of social media, we forgot as a planet that there is a difference between fact and opinion. Simply wanting something to be true or thinking something is true doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Dwight Howard isn’t wrong because he’s a basketball player, he’s wrong because he’s not a doctor or a scientist and he got bad information somewhere, just like millions of other anti-vaxxers out there. If you’re reading this shaking your head, I’m talking about you.
If Howard, or any other player, was espousing a view that is legitimately a matter of opinion, such as his choice for President or his thoughts on abortion or gun control or civil rights, then more power to him he should be allowed to speak his mind. The difference is that vaccines are a matter of scientific fact. Vaccines work and they are safe. It’s only through a willingness to, for some reason, tolerate ignorance in the guise of speech that conspiracy theory nonsense like this makes its way into the mainstream.
Listen to doctors, not basketball players. Or people who write things on the internet who also aren’t doctors, for that matter. Just actual doctors and scientists.
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