December 27, 2021

You see LeBron’s latest Instagram Post? Fox News is gonna suddenly love him.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (and Donald J. Trump) vs. LeBron James.

“When Trump has a more sensible take on vaccines than LeBron.”

I’ve idolized LeBron for years.

I’ve written before about my disappointment in his selfish, weak, ill-informed statements on Hong Kong rights vs. China, sullying his long-remarkable legacy of standing up for civil rights, children’s education, and involvement in political issues that matter, speaking up against President Trump’s racism and hate and lies. It’s been easy to admire his eloquence, powerful personality, and force for excellence on the court that remains undimmed by age.

But now, he’s failed us again, and more importantly failed his own black community, the one he has stood up for and served so well, so many times. As civil rights icon (and sky hook Hall of Famer) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar puts it,

LeBron James is not only one of the greatest basketball players ever, he’s committed to being a leader in the African American community in the fight against inequality. But his Thursday Instagram meme showing three cartoon Spider-Men pointing at each other—one labeled “covid,” one labeled “flu,” one labeled “cold”—with his message: “Help me out folks” was a blow to his worthy 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…

…While LeBron is a necessary and dynamic voice critical of police brutality against the Black community, he needs to be the same necessary and dynamic advocate with vaccines, which could save thousands of Black lives right now. The racism is just as real—and just as lethal—in both cases.”

His entire rebuttal is worth reading—it’s well-informed, and kind, and honest, and rises above, well, Twitter culture. It actually seeks to inform, not insult. And the stats and facts in there are powerful in reminding all of us that the spread and death that Covid brings is, in fact, a racist issue.

Please know. From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, again:

“For those confident that the Omicron variant may not be as harsh as previous variants, it’s important to realize that, while most might come out of it okay, they can still unwittingly infect others along the way—the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, people with respiratory problems—who could end up hospitalized or dead. Also, almost half of those who recover from initial COVID-19 illness have “long-haul COVID,” with persistent symptoms of brain fog, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.

For those pointing out that there are “breakthrough” cases in which the vaccinated contract COVID-19. Yes, but they also have lighter symptoms and are at a much less risk of dying than the unvaccinated. The crucial statistic here is this: 98-99% of Americans dying of COVID-19 are unvaccinated.”

I mean, heck, even President Trump himself is coming off as more vaccine-aware and supportive than LeBron, at this point—if only because he imagines he deserves credit for scientists’ remarkable achievements in bringing successful vaccines to the public in record time. As Reddit put it, “When trump has a more sensible take on vaccines than lebron…” LeBron needs to read up, grow up, and serve the greater good.

That’s the behavior of an idol I’d find worth looking up to.

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