Speed Reads

Solving COVID

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar makes the altruistic case for vaccinating NBA players now

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar agrees with fellow NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley that at least some current professional hoops players should jump the COVID-19 vaccine line, but his reasoning differs significantly.

Barkley caused a stir last month when he suggested NBA players "deserve some preferential treatment" regarding vaccinations because they pay a lot in taxes due to their high salaries. In a Monday op-ed for The New York Times, Abdul-Jabbar — who at age 73 has already been vaccinated — writes that while that is simply "untrue," there is an altruistic case for inoculations within the league, even though healthy athletes in their 20s and 30s typically wouldn't be close to prioritization.

"Certain populations," including African-Americans and adults under the age of 35, "are reluctant to be vaccinated," Abdul-Jabbar notes. There's reason for that, he adds, especially within the Black community, which has historically received "lower-quality health care than white people" and been subjected to nefarious medical studies in the past. But "that is why we can waste no time promoting legitimate role models," like NBA players, who appeal to both the under-35 and African-American demographics, Abdul-Jabbar argues. If LeBron James or Stephen Curry, for instance, were to publicly post their vaccinations on social media, he writes, they will help convince people the shots "are safe and necessary." Read more at The New York Times.