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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal on players refusing Covid-19 vaccine: 'Remove them from the team'

Kareem and Shaq

Since some NBA players continue to resist getting the vaccine, Hall-of-Famers such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal make their stand on the issue. 

Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Remove them from the team

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got vaccinated and encouraged others to do the same as early as February 2021. He even urged NBA players to cut the line to get the jab first. Back then, when the supply remained unstable, critics received the message poorly: it wasn’t an issue of willingness but availability. 

“Health policy professionals suggest that public health campaigns using celebrities should focus on celebrities who are influential in particular communities in order to build trust. N.B.A. players, 81.1 percent of whom are Black, appeal to the under-35 and African-American demographics.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, via NY Times

Now that the supply has gotten better, Kareem thinks it should no longer be an issue of willingness. 

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“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team. 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.”

Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, via The NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League—And It’s Working

">Rolling Stone

Abdul Jabbar probably refers to NBA stars who have many followers but still don’t believe in vaccination or science. Players such as Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and Jonathan Isaac got mixed reactions from fans and critics after deciding not to get the jab went public.

Shaq reposting Kareem’s quote card on his Instagram

Another Hall-of-Famer sends a strong message to anti-vaxxers. Shaquille O’Neal reposted the quote from Abdul Jabbar on his Instagram stories. Shaq campaigned with Charles Barkley and Barack Obama back in April 2021 to encourage people to get the vaccine.

People say that a grown man should decide what happens to his body. Each man is entitiled to his opinions, but sticking to unverified information and choosing to believe in them over science sends the wrong message. As basketball stars, Irving and Wiggins have the platform and power to influence their massive following. They can refuse the vaccine, but they play in cities where vaccinations are required. Refusing them might lead to not being able to play in their home games. As basketball players are paid to play and follow team rules, Irving and Wiggins should be ready to face sanctions and follow the consequences of refusing to get COVID vaccinations. 

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