Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took aim at Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James over a recent Instagram post, where James signaled that he struggled to see the distinction between COVID-19, the flu or a cold.
This Jan. 24, 2017, file photo, shows former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during a sports and activism panel entitled “From Protest to Progress: Next Steps” in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
James posted a cartoon meme over the weekend picturing three Spidermen — one labeled “flu,” another labeled “covid,” and the third marked “cold” — pointing at each other in apparent confusion. Accompanying the meme, James said “Help me out folks.”
In a post on his Substack on Monday, Abdul-Jabbar wrote that James’s Instagram message was “a blow to his worthy legacy.”
“LeBron James is not only one of the greatest basketball players ever, he’s committed to being a leader in the African American community in the fight against inequality,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
“But his Thursday Instagram meme showing three cartoon Spider-Men pointing at each other — one labeled ‘covid,’ one labeled ‘flu,’ one labeled ‘cold’ — with his message: ‘Help me out folks’ was a blow to his worthy legacy,” he continued.
Abdul-Jabbar continued that James’s celebrity might affect the Black community’s choice on COVID-19 vaccination, while pointing to data that highlights COVID-19’s effect on communities of color.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in November “that health equity is still not a reality as COVID-19 has unequally affected many racial and ethnic minority groups, putting them more at risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
Additionally, the Lakers icon noted support from someone with James status could serve to mitigate vaccine hesitancy in the Black community.
“One way to help the Black community to overcome their hesitancy and save lives is for prominent Black celebrities and influencers to continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and their boosters,” he wrote.
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