Speaking on the COVID-19 vaccine, Lakers superstar LeBron James did confirm that he and his family are vaccinated, stating that he came to the decision after doing some research on the topic.
Yet, in the same breath, James also highlighted the importance of choice, shocking some people when he refused to advocate for others to get the vaccine.
'We’re talking about individuals’ bodies," James said. "We’re not talking about something that’s political or racism or police brutality, things of that nature. We’re talking about people’s bodies and well-being. So I don’t feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what other people do for their bodies and their livelihoods.”
For some, it was an agreeable position, for others, it was a highly dangerous and discouraging thing to say publicly. Kareem-Abdul Jabbar falls in the latter category.
In an article, expanding on some of the points he made last month and blasting LeBron James for not protecting the community.
I’m a huge fan of LeBron James, both as one of the greatest basketball players ever and as a humanitarian who cares about social injustice. I have written his praises many times in the past and undoubtedly will in the future. I admire him and have affection for him. But this time LeBron is just plain wrong—and his being wrong could be deadly, especially to the Black community.
Going on, Kareem compared the vaccine mandates movement to drunk driving laws, pointing out that there is a precedent for the government to regulate behavior for the sake of saving lives.
The country also mandates against drunk driving, “pressing hard” against the freedom to drive under the influence. We do that because drunk driving kills 11,000 Americans every year and costs us more than $44 billion dollars. Vaccine deniers and those who want to “honor” them are like drunk drivers who are convinced they’re okay to drive. When they make it home without an accident, that means they were right. Until they aren’t. Which is why 97% of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated.
Finally, Kareem notes the burden that LeBron has, as a leader and role model, to set an example for others and do the right thing.
And while some who don’t get the vaccine might never get sick or if they do suffer mild symptoms, they are still unknowingly spreading the disease to others, killing some. While we’re honoring the unvaccinated, COVID cases are rising alarmingly among young children.
I think of the situation like those old fire brigades when people stood in a line passing buckets of water to save their neighbor’s house from burning to the ground. Maybe some people were afraid to join the line. But when the town leaders joined in, it encouraged others to do their duty. Today’s celebrities and athletes are like those town leaders. You either join the line to save your neighbor’s home, or you stand by and let it burn because you don’t owe them anything.
Kareem has made his stance on the anti-vaxx movement clear and not only does he want every player to get vaccinated, but he also wants players to help inspire their fans to get the shot as well.
No matter your views on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, it's clear to see that it's an issue the league will be dealing with for some time now, and it's anyone's guess how or when it will all end.