Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticizes LeBron James' COVID meme

FILE PHOTO: NBA basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabaar waves before speaking on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Dec 28 (Reuters) - LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar see eye-to-eye on social-justice issues, but they've got some distance to go to reach common ground on COVID-19.

Abdul-Jabbar recently took to his Substack to criticize James for a COVID-19 meme James posted to Instagram on Dec. 24. The meme shows three Spider-Men pointing at one another, with the labels "covid," "cold" and "flu" superimposed over each figure.

James has left the meme up despite criticism, and Abdul-Jabbar has termed the act risky and a "blow" to James' "worthy legacy."

"With 106 million Instagram followers, making such a post is automatically politically impactful because he questions the validity of the efforts to get the country vaccinated," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "As is evident by some of the comments that cheer LeBron's post, he's given support to those not getting vaccinated, which makes the situation for all of us worse by postponing our health and economic recovery.

"To directly address LeBron's confusion ... experts agree that COVID-19 is at least 10 times more lethal than the flu. As for the common cold, death is extremely rare."

This comes on the heels of Abdul-Jabbar criticizing James' hesitancy to promote the vaccine as the NBA season was getting underway two months ago.

"We're all for freedom, but not at the expense of others nor if it damages the country," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "That's why we mandate seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, car insurance, education for our children."

Abdul-Jabbar has been complimentary of James in regards to social justice and in his latest article praised James as "a necessary and dynamic voice critical of police brutality against the Black community."

But given that "vaccine hesitancy is higher in the Black community than in any other," Abdul-Jabbar argues that "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 (get) their boosters."

--Field Level Media

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