Jay Williams went on “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith to discuss Kyrie Irving’s vaccination stance. During the interview it got a little heated between the two, with SAS doing his usual shouting over Williams.
Williams was adamant that it’s Kyrie’s choice and he stands with him. While SAS believes he’s being selfish by not getting vaccinated.
Following the show, fans as they typically do, overstepped their bounds, and sent death threats to Williams.
The response to Williams’ opinion shouldn’t be death threats, especially when disagreeing is the cornerstone of the sports debate formula. It should be OK to disagree.
“Thank God I almost passed away when I was 21 years old,” Williams said. “You know some of the crazy stuff that people say to me on the internet when they disagree with my opinion? ‘Go hit a pole, go die again, aww Duke education.’ Thank God I went through that experience, ‘cause I don’t need other people to justify how I think about myself.”
Williams is a very opinionated analyst who doesn’t bend on his convictions and that was obvious in his heated debate with SAS.
Show moderater Molly Qerim-Rose stepped in and gave her opinion on the matter.
“I think there’s two issues thy stand out to me. One, he wants to be a voice for the voiceless, but we haven’t heard from him. So if you want to stand up, you have to speak out on these issues so we understand. We can’t just hear a story and we’re not even sure if it’s true or not. And the other piece is that he’s upset about people losing their jobs but what about all the people who lost their lives during this pandemic?”
Williams is fine with Irving’s hesitance to get vaccinated and his uncertain timetable for rejoining his Brooklyn Nets teammates, who have supported Kyrie throughout this journey.
Molly wasn’t feeling that response.
“Jay when you referred to the timeline, the NBA season tips off in five days. We’re not making up some timeline, the NBA starts. They’re the favorites to win the chip. And he’s saying he’s not retiring, and I’m not giving up this game up for the vaccine. OK then, what are we doing? Are you playing or not, that’s what we want to know. So it’s not that the media is creating this timeline, we’re talking about him for no reason.”
The vaccine issue is at the center of every sports discussion. The seriousness of the pandemic and the various opinions about how each individual should approach it has created quite a political “Game of Thrones.”
The social media abuse directed at Williams is part of a larger problem with fan culture. Fans often cross the line at games and shout obscenities. And with a direct access to players via social media, it’s a never-ending cycle of toxic exchanges.
People are as passionate about vax philosophies as their team winning or losing. This mini-war between Jay Willams and the “First Take” staff is indicative of that.