NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is now doubling down on his position that unvaccinated NBA players deserved to be waived off their teams, telling CNN on Monday that these players should be “disciplined.”
Last weekend, Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone that the “the NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team.” Apparently, Abdul-Jabbar is for mandates. Got it.
“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,” he said.
This NBA legend was being interviewed by CNN host Don Lemon in regards to his comments, and Abdul-Jabbar accused those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine of failing to be “good citizens.”
“I don’t think that they are behaving like good teammates or good citizens. This is a war that we’re involved in. And masks and vaccines — they are the weapons that we use to fight this war,” he said.
His comments were in response to a report from Rolling Stone detailing several vaccine-hesitant NBA players. These reports indicated that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was among those who were skeptical of the vaccine, and they called attention to his social media posts.
Irving did not attend the media day for the Brooklyn Nets, so he couldn’t be interviewed in person. However, he did take questions from reporters on a remote basis, declining to say whether he’s been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m a human being first,” Irving said. “Obviously living in this public sphere, it’s just a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I just would love to just keep that private and handle it the right way, with my team and go forward together with the plan.”
However, this didn’t wash with NBA big-man Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who said he couldn’t “accept” Irving’s position and said he thought that Irving was “hiding behind procedure.”
“Either you understand what’s going on and you’re going to do the right thing, or you don’t understand what’s going on and you’re going to continue to create all this confusion with your stance,” he told Lemon.
The NBA claims that it would not be able to mandate vaccines for players without the approval from the NBA players union. Irving is that union’s vice president. Moreover, Kyrie is actually one of the rare holdouts; a recent report notes that 90% of NBA players are currently on a COVID-19 vaccine.
“A vaccine mandate for NBA players would need an agreement with the Players Association. The NBA has made these proposals but the players’ union has rejected any vaccination requirement,” an NBA spokesman told CBS News Tuesday.