As the NBA prepares for its third consecutive pandemic season, player vaccinations have quickly become a burning issue.
The conversation prompted Basketball Hall of Fame member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to publicize his position that every NBA player should be vaccinated.
“They have nothing to explain, but if they don’t want to get the shot I don’t think they should be allowed to play,” Abdul-Jabbar told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton , Sunday morning.
While recent reports indicate that 95 percent of players have received at least one hit – that’s more than the 85 percent of eligible Canadians and nearly 65 percent of Americans in the same boat – a vocal minority in basketball -ball is making waves.
Canada’s Andrew Wiggins was among the loudest when his request for an exemption to ignore the COVID-19 vaccine was denied by the league.
Wiggins, a Golden State Warriors forward, initially said he planned to keep “to fight for what [he] to believe[s]“speaking to reporters earlier this week. But on Sunday afternoon the team said he had received a vaccine and would be eligible to play in all games. Head coach Steve Kerr did the post-workout announcement.
Wiggins was faced with the possibility of not being allowed into the Golden State home building at the Chase Center for games starting October 13, when the San Francisco Department of Public Health begins to require proof. vaccination for large indoor events.
Meanwhile, stars Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal also raised questions about the shots, revealing that they too were not vaccinated.
Abdul-Jabbar noted that these players were likely vaccinated against other diseases like polio and mumps in elementary school.
“It’s just that we have a different goal at this point and that needs to be faced with this new vaccine,” he said on Rosemary Barton Live.
Example for the black community
Abdul-Jabbar said it was especially important for NBA players – about three-quarters of whom are black – to get the shot because they serve as role models.
âThe black community has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 situation, and they need masks and vaccines to fight it in order to win,â he said.
Abdul-Jabbar, 74, spent 20 seasons in the NBA from 1969 to 1989 and holds the record for most career points. He won six NBA titles with the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks and was named the MVP of the Finals twice.
In retirement, he became an author and activist focusing on black history. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2016.
Abdul-Jabbar cited Tuskegee’s experience as one of the reasons some members of the black community may be reluctant to take a government-approved vaccine. Between 1932 and 1972, the United States Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told hundreds of black men with syphilis in Alabama that they were receiving free public health care.
In fact, the subjects were not told they had syphilis and were not receiving any real treatment. At the end of the experience, 128 patients had died of syphilis or complications.
âBlacks have been denied all treatment and given way to disease,â Abdul-Jabbar said.
“In this situation, black people need the treatmentâ¦ because that is what will effectively combat the COVID-19 situation.”
The NBA has reportedly been pushing for vaccinations to be mandatory for the coming season, but has been pushed back by the players’ union.
Instead, the league and union have agreed to strict protocols for unvaccinated players that include daily testing, isolation of teammates and road travel restrictions.
Most team staff and all officials should be vaccinated.