Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, has also been one of the loudest voices in the social media atmosphere for the last couple of months. In his latest message, he corrected LeBron James, particularly the small forward's recent posts about illnesses and vaccines.
What caught Jabbar's eye was a Spiderman meme LeBron posted on Instagram. Kareem pointed out that James' cluelessness about the differences between COVID, flu, and the cold, is a "blow to his legacy."
"The meme's implication is that LeBron doesn't understand the difference among these three illnesses, even after all the information that's been presented in the press. Well, since he asked, let me help him out by explaining the difference—and how knowing that difference might save lives, especially in the Black community," Abdul-Jabbar said for Substack.
As promised, Jabbar educated James on the difference between the three illnesses by presenting a plethora of studies and articles. COVID is the deadliest among the three, citing a study confirming that the coronavirus is "10 times more lethal than the flu." In addition, Jabbar noted that just like COVID, people are hesitant to get inoculated against the flu.
"However, LeBron, if you're concerned about the flu, then help promote the flu vaccination. In the 2019-2020 flu season, only 51.8% in the U.S. were vaccinated, well below the 70% that is the target. Worse, the vaccination rate is 20% lower among Blacks than whites and as a result they have the highest hospitalization rate due to flu of any other group. This is due to vaccination hesitancy that your meme promotes."
Jabbar noted that COVID is not just a health problem. It also unveils the dark side of social inequality, particularly between Whites and African-American communities. Apart from vaccine hesitancy, access to medicines and hospitalization has caused many African-Americans and other minority groups to die. Citing an article by National Public Radio, Jabbar wrote: "COVID-19 has resulted in a drop in life expectancy among whites of 1.2 years. Among the Black and Latinx communities it was more than 3 years."
Jabbar ended his lengthy letter by praising James' aggressive stance against racism and police brutality. But in the eyes of Jabbar, James should carry this tenacity in the way he educates the public about illnesses and vaccines.