Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Wants Unvaccinated Players To Leave The NBA

Image Credit: Clutch Points NBA Twitter Screen Shot

As more high-profile NBA players are still unvaccinated, NBA legends are starting to voice their opinions on the subject.

Recently Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he believes unvaccinated NBA players and staff should leave the league.

The Veteran Perspective

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” said Abdul-Jabbar to Rolling Stone.

“There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research.”

“What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. “Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”

The six-time NBA champion is an avid advocate for vaccination and was the face of an NBA-sponsored PSA vaccination campaign. Abdul-Jabbar got his vaccine on camera and encouraged others to follow suit.

On Monday, Abdul-Jabbar talked to CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight and elaborated further.

“I don’t think that they are behaving like good teammates or good citizens. This is a war that we’re involved in. And masks and vaccines — they are the weapons that we use to fight this war.”

The New Dilemma

Player vaccinations have heated up lately as players in significant markets with vaccine mandates have chosen not to get the shot.

San Francisco and New York City have indoor vaccine mandates. The mandate forces the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors players to face home game exclusion without the vaccine.

However, the NBA does not require players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in the season. Exemptions in the mandated regions are only considered based on medical or religious reasons.

NBA arena staffers, referees, and personnel who work closely with players must be fully vaccinated.

The Holdouts

Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors has been adamant about not getting the vaccine. At a recent media day, he bypassed the question of his anti-vaccine stance by saying, “and it’s my problem, not yours.”

On Monday, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving did media day via Zoom call, indicating he violated NYC’s indoor mandate. Although Irving did not disclose his vaccination status, he said he wants “to keep that stuff private.”

“I’m a human being first,” Irving said. “Obviously living in this public sphere, it’s just a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I just would love to just keep that private and handle it the right way, with my team and go forward together with the plan.”

Kareem’s Not Buying It

However, Abdul-Jabbar “can’t accept” Irving’s sentiment. The legend elaborated more on CNN.

“He’s hiding behind procedure here. Either you understand what’s going on and you’re going to do the right thing, or you don’t understand what’s going on and you’re going to continue to create all this confusion with your stance.”

“We have to educate ourselves so that we understand what is being offered. These vaccines are safe and they are effective. And we have to fight this virus as a group. We can’t have certain people feeling, ‘Well, I don’t have to do that.’ That’s insanity,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.