NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Rips LeBron James for COVID-19 Meme

James shared a variation of the popular “Spider-Man” meme comparing COVID-19 to having a cold and the flu

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. The NBA legend recently criticized LeBron James for sharing a meme comparing Covid to the flu.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA.
John Sciulli/Getty for Fulfillment Fund

With COVID-19 surging throughout pro sports and the Omicron variant placing both vaccinated and unvaccinated players on the sidelines heading into Christmas, LeBron James vented his frustration on Instagram.

James, who missed time earlier this year due to COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, shared a variation of the popular “Spider-Man” meme comparing COVID-19 to having a cold and the flu with his 106 million followers. Accompanying the meme, the 36-year-old NBA star wrote, “Help me out folks.” 

For context, this is what James said about COVID-19 and vaccinations in September: “I don’t talk about other people and what they should do. We’re talking about individual bodies. We’re not talking about something political or racism or police brutality. I don’t think I personally should get involved in what other people do for their bodies and livelihoods … I know what I did for me and my family … But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and things they want to do, that’s not my job.”

There’s no way to know for sure as James has not addressed the meme in greater depth, but the implication would seem to be that he is saying there’s not really a difference between COVID-19, the flu or a cold, possibly because many players have been asymptomatic. Another possibility is that James was commenting on the difficulties caused by the similarities of the symptoms.

Either way, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took aim at the Los Angeles Lakers star in a post he published on his Substack account and asserted that James sharing the meme was “a blow to his worthy legacy.”

“The meme’s implication is that LeBron doesn’t understand the difference among these three illnesses, even after all the information that’s been presented in the press. Well, since he asked, let me help him out by explaining the difference—and how knowing that difference might save lives, especially in the Black community … Vaccine hesitancy is higher in the Black community than in any other. While there are certainly justifiable historical reasons for Blacks to be skeptical of the health care system that has routinely marginalized, ignored, and even illegally experimented on them, that is not enough to justify compromising their health and even losing their lives during the current health crisis … While LeBron is a necessary and dynamic voice critical of police brutality against the Black community, he needs to be the same necessary and dynamic advocate with vaccines, which could save thousands of Black lives right now. The racism is just as real—and just as lethal—in both cases.”

In the NBA, more than 100 players are currently in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

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