Saturday, December 4 2021

One might think after all the things NBA players have been through in the last 18 months with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, they might be not only open to getting vaccinated against the virus behind all of their woes but perhaps even enthusiastic about it.

After playing in a bubble after a long hiatus and then starting the next season up after a historically short offseason with long periods away from friends and family in the midst of some truly harrowing times, it’d be disingenuous to say NBA players and the team organizations that support them have not sacrificed much because of the pandemic.

But much like society more generally, there have been holdouts. And unlike society more generally, these holdouts have far-reaching platforms and large followings of fans their opinions and deeds may influence. Some vaccine-reluctant players even hold positions of power in the league’s player’s union.

In a new piece for Rolling Stone detailing this situation regarding vaccine holdouts and a small but influential cadre of anti-vaccine players continue to impact the NBA, journalist Matt Sullivan laid out a scene sure to make supporters of modern medical science uncomfortable at best. Noting that of the “fifty to sixty NBA players … yet to receive a single vaccine dose” the majority “are considered merely reluctant skeptics,” a subset “amount to their own shadow roster of anti-vaxxers mounting a behind-the-scenes resistance to Covid protocols — and the truth.” https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1441990952160161793?s=20

Former Boston Celtics point guard and National Basketball Players Association Vice President Kyrie Irving in particular has in recent days begun “following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that ‘secret societies’ are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for ‘a plan of Satan’.” Perhaps more concerning, per Sullivan’s sources, this “Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats.” https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1442036245979451398?s=20

Patience among many with such views is wearing thin in many parts, such as with Hall of Fame big man Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. “The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” said the Lakers legend to the Rolling Stone reporter.

“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. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts.”

“Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?” asks Jabbar rhetorically. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1442066737088774146?s=20

Boston big man Enes Kanter spoke with Sullivan shared his feelings about the ongoing reluctance to get the jab.

“If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we are in a time where the religion and science has to go to together … I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys — I’m like: ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”

Even after seeing COVID-19 play a major role in tanking their season, several Celtics are reportedly among the vaccine holdouts. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1442081557208920065?s=20

“If you’re a player and you’re not vaccinated and you miss a week or two weeks,” related Kanter, “it could literally change the whole season — and we’re trying to win a championship!” Teammate Grant Williams — who is pro-vaccination personally — has found himself having to advocate on behalf of that subset of unvaccinated players as an NBPA board member. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1442081914139987972?s=20

“But no matter someone’s vaccination status, that won’t determine relationships,” said Williams, seemingly trying to strike a conciliatory tone.

“You’re not going to agree with someone on the same political issue, the same financial issue. Just like in life, you learn to adapt, you learn to talk to those around you. It might be a stricter stance from the league, and I understand where they’re coming from, but as a players’ association it’s our duty to fight for the players and their best interests, so we’ll do our best to counteract that.”

Given however that the issue at hand is public health and an imminent threat to life and well-being, it seems hard to reconcile the Tennessee product’s words with representing the players’ — or anyone’s — best interests. https://twitter.com/EnesKanter/status/1441953757042970629?s=20

Williams is correct in his position that maintaining open lines of communication is perhaps one of the best tools we have to changing the minds of those who continue to resist getting vaccinated. Even if the toll in our own personal lives and on those among our peers can sometimes make such a footing a nearly impossible task. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=60182,60175,60089,60025] [listicle id=60177]

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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