A new piece by Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone takes a deep dive into some of the issues that the NBA is having getting its final 10 percent or so of players vaccinated against COVID-19. While there are a whole heck of a lot of individuals who do not come out looking good, one person who takes a hardline stance based in the science behind the vaccine is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In the eyes of the Hall of Fame center, the NBA should be proactive in how it handles those who will not get vaccinated. As Abdul-Jabbar argues, “there is no room for players” who opt to pass on the vaccine.
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
Abdul-Jabbar went on to say that while he is not demanding these athletes act as “spokespersons for the government,” he believes there is a moral obligation that comes with having a platform that can save lives, and opting to not use it is “contributing to these deaths” that occur due to the ongoing pandemic.
“They are failing to live up to the responsibilities that come with celebrity. Athletes are under no obligation to be spokespersons for the government, but this is a matter of public health,” the Hall-of-Famer writes Rolling Stone in an e-mail. Abdul-Jabbar is especially disappointed in athletes of color: “By not encouraging their people to get the vaccine, they’re contributing to these deaths. I’m also concerned about how this perpetuates the stereotype of dumb jocks who are unable to look at verified scientific evidence and reach a rational conclusion.”
Abdul-Jabbar has, for the entirety of his basketball career, spoken with a level of forwardness and moral clarity that is oftentimes unmatched. That, once again, is the case here.