Photo: KGO-TV via ABC7News

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is of the view that there is no room for athletes who aren’t willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and reckons the NBA should insist on everyone involved in the professional game taking the vaccine.

A number of players are understandably skeptical over being administered one of the few new vaccines that are supposed to combat the coronavirus, but Kareem sees it as being disingenuous, especially as other lives will be put at risk.

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” he told the 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?”

While the Hall of Famer does not expect athletes to be spokespersons for the government, he feels that they are contributing to COVID-19 deaths by not encouraging people to get vaccinated. The Rolling Stone notes that the former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers center is particularly disappointed in athletes of color.

“They are failing to live up to the responsibilities that come with celebrity,” he said. “Athletes are under no obligation to be spokespersons for the government, but this is a matter of public health. By not encouraging their people to get the vaccine, they’re contributing to these deaths. I’m also concerned about how this perpetuates the stereotype of dumb jocks who are unable to look at verified scientific evidence and reach a rational conclusion.”

This comes after Golden State Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins was denied a religious vaccination exemption, which leaves him unable to play in any home games next season. Local regulations in New York and San Francisco require players from the Warriors, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets to be vaccinated in order to play in home arenas unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

Wiggins sought a religious exemption from the league but, on Friday, the NBA announced they have denied it. “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements,” the ruling reads.