The vaccine is not a personal choice for NBA players


The frustrating thing about a handful of polarizing opinions from Kyrie Irving – on Flat Earth, for example – is that they overshadow the fact that he was specific on other important points.

In May, before performing in front of a Boston crowd for the first time since leaving the Celtics, he told writers he hoped fans didn’t behave in a racist or belligerent manner. But on that trip, a fan threw a water bottle at Irving’s head as the keeper left the field after the contest.

Irving also drew criticism from some corners at the height of the pandemic, when the NBPA vice president reportedly backed the notion of a punt over the rest of the suspended NBA season – and the idea of ​​the bubble – after that George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. His concerns included the idea that simply returning to business as usual, even in a bubble, could undermine players’ ability to draw increased attention to issues of systemic racism and police brutality against black Americans.

Months later, after the bubble started, that sentiment seemed to be validated. The players were out of their minds after an officer shot Jacob Blake in suburban Milwaukee, prompting the Bucks to boycott first and then postpone their playoff game that night following the incident. In a memorable comment surrounding the situation, Milwaukee guard George Hill said, “We shouldn’t even have gotten into this damn [bubble], to be honest, ”a remark that lent credence to Irving’s initial objection.

So we’ve seen cases before where his concerns were about money. That’s why this most recent story about Irving’s reluctance to get the vaccine is so frustrating.

The decision not to get the vaccine, when science overwhelmingly suggests it leaves individuals and the population at large much safer this way, would be more comparable to the Flat Earth conspiracy theory that Irving has fed six years ago if not for the largest, more serious risks are involved here. Even though some people – and unfortunately a handful of NBA players – repeat that a person’s immunization status is a personal issue, it is also a public health issue.

“I think there is something to be said about people’s worry about something that is in such a rush. Like, why are you pushing this point so hard? ” Draymond Green asked rhetorically on Thursday, adding that he saw teammate Andrew Wiggins’ choice to remain unvaccinated – leaving him potentially unable to play in home games, due to San Francisco’s vaccine tenure for major indoor events – as a choice staff.

The obvious answer, of course, is that we will soon pass the 700,000 lives lost mark in America due to COVID-19. There is nothing quite like being simply a personal choice when getting vaccinated dramatically reduces the likelihood of contracting and spreading the disease. Getting vaccinated helps the cause and potentially saves lives. Of course, good faith requests for religious exemptions are more of a gray area. But generally, not getting the vaccine increases the likelihood that other people will get sick. The shot is the selfless act at a time when many people are getting vaccinated.

That’s not to say that Irving never thinks of people other than himself. When he finally apologized for his comments on Flat Earth, Irving said he had heard from dozens of science teachers whose jobs were made more difficult because of the questions he raised. (He also said the fallout showed him how much weight his words carried as an NBA star.) Following Floyd’s murder, Irving bought a house for Floyd’s family. Just over a year ago, he pledged $ 1.5 million to help supplement the income of WNBA players who opted out last season, both for those who did. absent due to coronavirus and social justice issues. Three years ago, Irving embraced his Native American heritage on a moving trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The year before, in 2017, he had donated more than $ 100,000 to the tribe – in which his late mother was born.

Irving also donated food pallets and masks to the tribe last year amid the pandemic – something the Native American community badly needed, which had a COVID-19 death rate nearly double that of White Americans and was hit harder than possibly any other demographic in the country last year due to inequalities in infrastructure and access to health care.

Just as Irving embraced the Native American community, the NBA beats us in the head with the message that this is a “brotherhood.” Still, sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re talking about the same league. On the one hand, you hear about how Karl-Anthony Towns’ life has been completely turned upside down by COVID-19, not only claiming the lives of his mother and six other relatives, but also emptying the towns of around 50 pounds by contracting the coronavirus itself. On the other side, you hear others expressing doubts and calling vaccination a personal choice, as if no one else has the potential to be touched by this call.

It seems somewhat ridiculous to fully assert this point of view in light of the fact that players like Irving and Wiggins could miss more than half of their games due to local vaccination warrants in New York and San Francisco. It becomes a team issue at this point, as it affects the chances of their teams without them on the pitch. It is an extremely important thing for a club like the Nets, who look like the favorites on paper, but just a few months ago saw their championship hopes die out for lack of availability.

The issue of vaccinations has come under a huge microscope lately in the NBA, with some questioning Lakers superstar LeBron James, who said earlier this week he got the shot, but only after some hesitation at this. topic. (He has also received criticism on social media for repeating the same phrase “It’s a personal decision for each person” that Green and so many others have said recently.) Still, there probably should be more grace towards those who take the time — even if it’s more than we would like them to take — to ask the right questions and talk to the right specialists to make them feel more comfortable. Something that is lost in the predominantly white, male-dominated media world is the fact that black athletes – black people – have historical reasons for not trusting medical practices as much as everyone else.

At least James ended up making a decision that was supported by extensive research, much like a number of other NBA players probably have. The league currently sits at a 95% vaccination rate, despite the fact that the increasingly slim minority has been in recent times. Between the threat of missed checks in New York and San Francisco and NBA rules making it increasingly difficult to participate in activities alongside non-shooting teammates, the league is knowingly tightening the screws on those who don’t. still got their shots. It’s something the unvaccinated won’t appreciate, but it’s also not that different from what airlines, schools, and hospitals across the country are pushing. And these employees are not paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per performance.

Regardless of what some cable networks say or what some YouTube videos lead you to believe, the reality is that there have almost always been vaccinations required in this country to keep people safe. To join the army. To send children to school or college. To work in the field of health.

And if Irving, Wiggins, Bradley Beal and others see this as protecting themselves is somewhat irrelevant, as harsh as that sounds. It’s just as much about protecting everyone around them. And that’s what makes the vaccine more than just a personal choice, despite how so many people continue to label it.

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