Report: Top NBA players hesitant to promote coronavirus vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination room at Evropeisky shopping mall in Moscow
Stanislav KrasilnikovTASS via Getty Images

With the coronavirus vaccine rolling out across the nation — slowly, but rolling out — the NBA had hoped to put together a string of public service announcements encouraging people to sign up and get the shot. Particularly people of color.

NBA legends Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have gotten the coronavirus vaccine and done PSAs, as have a couple of coaches. However, the league’s top active players have pulled back from taking part in promoting the vaccine, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.

Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise, reports have been around about players being reluctant to get the vaccine. That despite all the players who have come down with the disease and all the postponed games.

It’s not just NBA players. With a history of systemic racism to back up their perspective, there is hesitancy in many Black communities around the nation to jump on board with the vaccine. The NBA players reflect a national trend.

The NBA has brought in experts to talk to players about the vaccine, but that has not necessarily swayed many minds. At least not yet. However, players are not eligible yet (unless they have an underlying condition) as it is currently people 65 and older, as well as frontline workers and teachers, who are in line to get the vaccine. Healthy young adults like NBA players are farther down the priority list, and the NBA has said it will not let players jump the line.