Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of only three men who can lay claim to the GOAT basketball title, is warning us about Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving again. Irving recently posted an Instagram video from right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about a “New Word Order” out to profit on our misery, through the release of plagues. Irving a noted anti-vaxxer and COVID-19 denier. As an athlete with a massive platform Irving has the influence to negatively impact so many, and Abdul-Jabbar is concerned.
If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired. ♾🤞🏾
This enforced Vaccine/Pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.
— Hélà (@KyrieIrving) September 20, 2022
“Kyrie Irving’s thought process is an example of what happens when the education system fails,” Abdul-Jabbar writes in one of his recent Substack newsletters.
Irving can deny the existence of COVID-19 all he wants. The 6.5 million deaths worldwide and counting (over 1 million in the U.S.) say otherwise. Never mind the tens of millions still suffering with long COVID and no end in sight.
I am all for people being educated on issues that impact their health and well being and speaking with qualified people when making health decisions. But reposting or quote-tweeting a theory from Alex Jones? The man who was on trial, and lost, for denying the Sandy Hook school shootings took place and promoting fake theories on his media platform? The man who admitted under oath that he’s a performer and that who he portrays on screen is a character?
That’s the guy Irving wants to use as a legitimate source?
Not only is that extremely foolish. It’s also very dangerous. Irving is admired and followed by many people because of his wizardry on the basketball court. He has the power to influence many, especially young, people. Irving called himself a “voice for the voiceless” when he left his Nets team out to dry last season by refusing to adhere to the NYC vaccine mandate. Abdul-Jabbar sees it all as very distressing.
“Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “When I look at some of the athletes who have used their status to actually improve society—Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russel, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and more—it becomes clear how much Irving has tarnished the reputations of all athletes who strive to be seen as more than dumb jocks.”
Athletes should be allowed to use their platforms to speak out on causes and issues they believe strongly in. But they should do so with factual information and not speculation or conjecture.
The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and as scientists, researchers, epidemiologists and medical professionals continue to learn more about this novel disease, positions change. That’s the nature of science. You start with a hypothesis, you then run countless experiments to determine whether or not that hypothesis is true or false. You re-hypothesize, iterate and try again. It is a painstaking process.
Last time I checked neither Irving nor Jones possess the capacity or ability to do this kind of work as it relates to infectious disease. Nor have they consulted people who have dedicated their life to this type of work.
Abdul-Jabbar has called on rational people to write to Irving’s sponsors like Nike and Pepsi, and ask them to drop the baller due to his destructive commentary. That could work.
Irving is in the last year of his contract with the Nets and needs to be a good soldier if he is to convince the Nets or some other franchise that he’s worth a new deal. We’ll see if the threat of not making any more money, though he’ll have earned $230 million by the end of this year, forces any kind of change.
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