CNN  — 

The 2020 NBA season is set to resume on July 31, but right now Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard thinks there are more important matters at hand.

Following George Floyd’s death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, Howard says his focus is on the social change the protests have been calling for rather than basketball.

“And I just feel like our people – we need attention,” Howard told CNN’s Don Lemon. “I really feel like our world is hurting right now.

“So much stuff going on in our world, man, and I just feel like we don’t need to get distracted by anything. I would definitely want to play and win a championship, but I don’t want anything to distract us from really what’s going on in our world.

“It’s hurting. It’s hurting me. It’s hurting my family. It’s hurting all our families, and everybody is feeling it right now. I just think that we need to focus on what’s going on.”

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‘No basketball until we get things resolved’

Next month, 22 of the 30 NBA teams are scheduled to congregate in Orlando, Florida to finish the current season which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a coalition of NBA players – led by Brooklyn Nets point-guard Kyrie Irving – have voiced their uncertainty about committing to the league’s plan for restarting.

Howard dunks against the Atlanta Hawks.

Having spoken to Irving himself, Howard released a statement on Saturday outlining his belief that the NBA and other forms of entertainment are an unneeded distraction from more important issues the US is facing.

Howard stated that as much as he would like to resume the NBA season, he feels that the opportunity for unity among “my people” is a bigger priority and that there should be “no basketball till we get things resolved.”

When the season was suspended in March, Howard’s Lakers sat atop the Western Conference and, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davies, have an excellent chance to win an NBA title this season.

But despite being on the cusp of his first NBA championship, continuing the push for a more equal society remains the 34-year-old’s priority.

Howard and LeBron James react after teammate Kyle Kuzma dunked the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors.

“Going to L.A. for me has been the best thing in my life,” the gold medal winner at the 2008 Olympics said.

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“I’m very appreciative of just being on that team playing with LeBron, playing with AD. Just representing the Lakers again, that has meant the world to me. I just personally have seen so much pain from our people.

“This is about our people right now, and we need attention right now. I don’t want to make this about basketball. I don’t want to be defiant and try to cause any type of controversy. Because I love my team. I love the NBA. I love basketball. I just think our people need our attention right now.”