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#pounditSunday, May 22, 2022

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rips LeBron James over COVID meme

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar smiles

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has taken aim at LeBron James once again.

The former Los Angeles Lakers star was critical of the current Lakers star in a post on his Substack account on Sunday.

Kareem took issue with the meme James posted on Instagram on Thursday. The meme makes the point that COVID, the flu and a cold are all the same (see it here).

Abdul-Jabbar argued that the post was a “blow to [James’] worthy legacy.”

Abdul-Jabbar also argued that James’ post encourages vaccine hesitancy.

“By posting the uninformed meme, LeBron has encouraged vaccine hesitancy which puts lives and livelihoods at risk,” Jabbar wrote.

You can read his whole post here.

Though Kareem makes a strong case, he is off base on many accounts. I would dispute his argument that James is causing or contributing to vaccine hesitancy. The vaccine has been available in some capacity in America for a year and has been readily available to the American public for over half a year. Anyone who has wanted the vaccine has not only had ample opportunity to get it, but they have had access to a booster too by now. Those who have not been vaccinated have already made a conscious decision not to, and a meme posted by LeBron is unlikely to change that.

Also, James’ meme was likely talking about the Omicron variant. His post would have been more accurate had it said “Omicron” instead of “COVID.” The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has presented itself as a cold for many people. Many of the athletes who have tested positive for Omicron also have had no symptoms or mild symptoms.

To behave as if the current version of COVID is the same as the original strains in 2020 or the Delta variant makes little sense. Canceling games and shutting down seasons over asymptomatic cases, and among people who wouldn’t even know they were positive if they hadn’t been tested, makes little sense.

We’re nearly in 2022 and the circumstances have completely changed from 20 months ago. More therapies are available, people have had opportunities to receive a shot that lessens symptoms if they are infected, and the current strain is proving to be less potent than previous strains. It’s time to adjust accordingly, and James’ post seems to reflect that attitude.

What’s notable is that this is the second time this month Kareem has been critical of LeBron.

Photo: Jul 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar arrives for the 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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