The demand by some states and companies that people must be vaccinated in certain situations is playing out in an interesting manner in the National Basketball League. Two prominent players Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving had both refused to say whether they were vaccinated and had told people to respect their personal choice. That could have resulted in them not being allowed to play in states that require vaccinations and this would mean that Irving would be prohibited from playing in all home games in New York and Wiggins in San Francisco.
Their argument that their vaccination status is private and that others should respect their personal choices has been echoed by other players such as LeBron James and Draymond Green but basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is having none of it and has written an article strongly criticizing both players for not getting vaccinated, and James and Green for supporting them.
After Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins received criticism for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine for personal reasons, his teammate Draymond Green said the public needs to “honor” that decision: “There is something to be said for people’s concerns about something that’s being pressed so hard,” he stated. “Why are you pressing this so hard? You have to honor people’s feelings and their own personal beliefs.” To which LeBron responded that he “couldn’t have said it better myself.” Actually, it couldn’t have been said worse.
On the surface, it appears that Draymond and LeBron are arguing for the American ideal of individual freedom of choice. But they offer no arguments in support of it, nor do they define the limits of when one person’s choice is harmful to the community. They are merely shouting, “I’m for freedom.” We’re all for freedom, but not at the expense of others or if it damages the country. That’s why we mandate seat belts, motorcycle helmets, car insurance, and education for our children. For example, seat belt compliance is at 88 percent in the United States, but that 12 percent that doesn’t comply results in 47 percent of car accident fatalities (seventeen thousand) and costs US employers $5 billion a year, and those costs are passed on to us. They made the choice, but we survivors are left to deal with the grief and the price tag.
The only support for Draymond’s statement is his belief that when people “press hard,” there’s something inherently wrong with their opinion. There is no logic to that statement. If I press hard against institutional racism, if I press hard against police brutality, if I press hard against recent laws making it harder for minorities to vote, if I press hard against child pornography, if I press hard in support of #MeToo, am I automatically wrong?
On the contrary, the passion of those urging vaccines might suggest that there’s some urgency to their opinion. That the situation is serious and we need to take immediate action to protect people. That thousands are dying every day, mostly among the unvaccinated. That people in the Black community, where vaccine hesitancy is high, are dying at a disproportionately higher rate than white people. That publicly talking about honoring opinions that contribute to their deaths is irresponsible.
The country also mandates against drunk driving, “pressing hard” against the freedom to drive under the influence. We do that because drunk driving kills eleven thousand Americans every year and costs us more than $44 billion. Vaccine deniers and those who want to “honor” them are like drunk drivers who are convinced they’re okay to drive. When they make it home without an accident, that means they were right. Until they aren’t. Which is why 97 percent of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Wiggins later got the vaccine.
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has received his COVID-19 vaccine and will be eligible to play in all games.
The NBA said it “reviewed and denied” Wiggins’ request for a religious exemption and that he would not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfilled the vaccine mandate. Anyone 12 or older is required to show proof of vaccination to attend indoor events at Chase Center, and that message is on the Warriors’ website for fans.
Wiggins declined to explain what those beliefs actually entail, saying, “It’s none of your business, that’s what it comes down to.”
In another interview, Wiggins described his reasons and they had nothing to do with any religious beliefs.
Wiggins told reporters he is the only member of his family who is vaccinated.
“It’s not really something we believe in as a family,” he said. “They know that I had to. It came down to get the vaccination or don’t play basketball. I’m 26. I have two kids. I want more kids. I’m trying to do something that will generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future kids, create generational wealth. So, I took the gamble, took the risk, and hopefully, I’m good.”
Wiggins told reporters that he at an undisclosed time actually had COVID-19 and “it wasn’t too bad.” He said he carries an EpiPen because of an allergic reaction to medicine he took a couple years ago.
Let’s see what Irving does when the time comes to play a game. He has already had to miss practices because his team the Brooklyn Nets are based in New York City that requires proof of vaccination: “The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to a reduction in pay of 1/91.6 of a player’s salary for each game an unvaccinated player misses because of local COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”