NBA superstar LeBron James has been scorched for his response to questions relating to the coronavirus vaccine.
Following the Lakers’ loss to the Suns in game one of their first round play-off series, James was asked about his stance on taking the vaccine after the star violated the league’s health and safety regulations by attending a promotional event for a tequila brand last Thursday, alongside actor Michael B. Jordan and singer Drake.
The NBA decided not to punish James for the indiscretion, saying the event didn’t pose a big enough threat. In light of the information, a reporter asked the Lakers star:
“Hey LeBron, I know you’ve talked about how your availability for this team in this postseason is a huge factor for the team’s success. I was wondering if that value affected the way that you thought about the COVID-19 vaccine and being available, not being in protocols?” the reporter asked.
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“Nah. Nah,” James responded.
“Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority, or 99.9 per cent of that. It’s about the health and safety of my family.
“That’s what it came down to. Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I’m available both mentally, physically, and spiritually as well.
“But anything of that nature is all family talk.”
Reporter: “Do you mind me asking if you’re confirming that you did get the vaccine?”
“Ahhhh, it’s not a big deal,” James replied.
James indicated in March that he didn’t want to talk publicly about his thoughts on the vaccine. His response on Friday, provoked a heated reaction from ESPN host Stephen A Smith.
“He should be ashamed of himself. LeBron James should be ashamed of himself,” Smith said.
“It was weak, his response to it, it was leaderless. It was inexcusable for him not to provide a better explanation.
“Everybody has the right to their own privacy. You don’t want to let people know whether you took the vaccine or not, that is your business. But there is a whole bunch of things that LeBron James has elected to speak up about, that he felt was a detriment to our community, because he wanted to bring attention and a voice to matters. He felt compelled to speak up.
“But on the matter of the vaccine, you’ve got nothing to say all of these months. Nah. It doesn’t work that way. You either want to be out front and centre, bringing a voice to issues, or you don’t.
Smith also took issue with James breaking the league’s protocols.
“Here you are, LeBron James. You know what the safety protocols are for the NBA. You know how it looks,” he continued.
“But you do it anyway. Why’d you do it? Because you’re LeBron James.
“You know, because you’re LeBron James, that you can go out there and do stuff that other cats can’t do, and there was no way in hell that the NBA was going to sit you down.
“You have no business doing that. If you’re going to put yourself in that position, what you’ve done essentially is put the league in a position to look the way they’re looking.
“At the end of that day, you didn’t give a damn, you were going to do what you want to do. And to me, come playoff time, with the position the league is in because of the pandemic, I just think that was a very leaderless thing for him to do.”
Whether James has been vaccinated is anyone’s guess, although fellow Laker Dennis Schroder told the German media agency NTV at the start of May, that he and James were the only unvaccinated players on their team.
“Nearly the whole team is vaccinated. Only LeBron and I are not, I think,” said Dennis Schroder.
“I can’t go into quarantine again. If that happens now, I’ll miss a whole round of the playoffs. I can’t live with that.”
However, a couple of weeks after those quotes Schroeder said he was the only one on the Lakers team not to be vaccinated. On Friday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said his squad had not yet passed the 85 per cent vaccination threshold required to have its health restrictions loosened.
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