As the NBA prepares for its third straight pandemic season, player vaccination has quickly become a hot topic.
The conversation prompted the Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to go public with its stance that every NBA player should be vaccinated.
“You don’t have to explain anything, but if you don’t want to be vaccinated, I don’t think you should be allowed to play,” said Abdul-Jabbar to CBC chief correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday.
While recent reports say 95 percent of players got at least one shot – that’s more than 85 percent of eligible Canadians and nearly 65 percent of Americans in the same boat – a noisy minority are making waves in basketball.
Canadian Andrew Wiggins was among the loudest when his request for medical exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine was denied by the league.
A Golden State Warriors striker, Wiggins is not eligible to play home games until he is fully vaccinated under a local San Francisco mandate. He recently said he planned to keep “fighting for something”. [he] believe[s]. “
Meanwhile, all-stars Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal also asked questions about the shots, revealing that they too were unvaccinated.
Abdul-Jabbar noted that these players were likely vaccinated against other diseases such as polio and mumps in elementary school.
“We only have one other target at this point and we have to face this new vaccine,” he said Rosemary Barton Live.
Example of black community
Abdul-Jabbar said it was especially important for NBA players, around three-quarters of whom are black, to get vaccinated because they serve as role models.
“The black community has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 situation and they need the masks and the vaccinations to fight it in order to win,” 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 Finals MVP twice.
In retirement, he became a writer and activist focused on black history. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2016.
Abdul-Jabbar cited the Tuskegee experiment as one reason some in the black community may be reluctant to take a government-approved vaccine. Between 1932 and 1972, the United States Public Health Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified hundreds of black men with syphilis in Alabama that they were receiving free public health care.
In fact, the subjects were not informed that they had syphilis and did not receive any real treatment. By the end of the experiment, 128 patients had died of syphilis or complications.
“Blacks were denied treatment and allowed to fester from diseases,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
“In this situation, black people need treatment … because it will effectively fight the COVID-19 situation.”
The NBA reportedly pushed for vaccinations to become mandatory for the coming season but was rejected by the players’ union.
Instead, the league and union agreed on strict protocols for unvaccinated players that include daily testing, isolation of teammates and travel restrictions on the street.
Most team members and all referees must be vaccinated.