The NBA knew it was likely in for a PR headache as players and coaches met the media to officially open the 2021-2022 season on Monday — and no, this has nothing do with Ben Simmons’ trade demand in Philadelphia.
In the days leading up to the start of the season, reports surfaced that several high-profile players had yet to receive the Covid vaccine. For Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, this meant they would be unable to play in their teams’ home games because of city ordinances in Brooklyn and San Francisco, respectively. Wiggins doubled-down on his stance at media day, while Irving deflected questions from reporters via Zoom because he couldn’t even be in the building without the vaccine.
While a few loud skeptics dominated the narrative on the NBA’s fight against Covid, it’s worth noting that 85-90 percent of the league is vaccinated according to recent reports. Instead of focusing on the vaccine holdouts in the face of an ongoing public health crisis, let’s celebrate all the players who are being leaders by showing the world that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I did what was best for me and my family to stay protected”
We start with the reigning Finals MVP who just led the Bucks to an improbable championship. Yes, Giannis Antetokounmpo is vaccinated.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: I did what was best for me and my family to stay protected.
Yes, I am vaccinated.
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 27, 2021
LeBron James is vaccinated after doing his research
LeBron says that he was “very skeptical” about the vaccine at first, but after doing his research he decided that it’s “the best thing for me and my family.”
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 28, 2021
Damian Lillard: “As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life.”
Here’s the full quote from Lillard:
“I’m not mad at people for saying, ‘I need to do my research,’ or they got to take the steps that make them comfortable,” Lillard said. “But I have a lot of people in my family that I’m tight with and I spend a lot of time around and I’m just not going to put their health or their lives in danger because I want to do research. As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life. Before I went to college, I had to get shots. And, I couldn’t tell you one thing about any of them.”
“I’ve had people in my family actually die and people actually lose their lives to it, and there’s a way for me to protect myself and the people that I love, I’m going to do it,” Lillard said. “It’s pretty simple.”
Ja Morant got vaccinated for his baby daughter
Ja Morant shares that he is vaccinated. (As did Desmond Bane earlier.)
“I got vaccinated early. … I have a baby girl. I travel a lot. I can’t bring COVID back to her.”
— Chris Herrington (@ChrisHerrington) September 27, 2021
Desmond Bane: “I’ll be fine knowing that I was one of those people that was at least trying to save the other people.”
Desmond Bane had no problem getting vaccinated against Covid-19 since he grew up getting vaccines for other viruses.
“Whatever happens down the road, I’ll be fine knowing that I was one of those people that was at least trying to save the other people”
— Evan Barnes〽️ (@evan_b) September 27, 2021
Lonnie Walker knew where to get real information on the vaccine
Best quote from Spurs Media Day courtesy of Lonnie Walker IV:
“Tik Tok, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, leave it alone. If you want the real information (on COVID vaccines) get it from a family physician or someone that knows.”
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) September 27, 2021
Karl-Anthony Towns: “It never matters to people until it happens to them.”
“Every day I see a new excuse why people ain’t getting the vaccine,” Karl-Anthony Towns he tweeted earlier this month. KAT later added, “It never matters to people until it happens to them. I hope no one has to deal with what I’ve had to and still continue to deal with.”
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 27, 2021
Robin Lopez made the best vaccine joke
Like C.J. McCollum said:
I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that 90% of the league is vaccinated. Happy Monday.
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 27, 2021
Athletes and other celebrities have a public platform to help alleviate this crisis and to save lives. To not take on that responsibility harms the sports and entertainment industries, the community, and the country. Those who claim they need to do “more research” are simply announcing they have done no research, because the overwhelming consensus of immunologists and other medical experts is that the vaccine is effective and safe. And will prevent the unnecessary deaths of thousands. As I’ve said before, this position only perpetuates the stereotype of the dumb jock who’s only in sports for the money. It dehumanizes the victims as nothing more than political fodder.
Let’s hope we have a safe and fun NBA season ahead of us.