LeBron James has not been hesitant to speak his mind on social justice and other issues, but while he got vaccinated, he would not publicly encourage others to do the same. That stance frustrated Enes Kanter, among others, but it’s common among NBA players.
While about 95% of NBA players are vaccinated, few have been vocal in pushing for teammates or the public to do the same? Why the hesitancy? Stephen Curry laid it out in a lengthy interview with David Aldridge and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.
“To your point around why people can’t speak, because there’s a huge locker room aspect to it, and that’s for better or worse. That’s a part of sports. That’s a part of just protecting each other in that respect. And I understand that that’s going to sound like that we’re not taking the broader, we’re not prioritizing the broader problem here. But I think slowly, you’re seeing more guys be a little more outspoken, a little bit more direct about how they’re approaching it and how they’re sharing their point of views. And I hope that, sooner than later, we’ll be the next league at 100 percent. It’ll be a good case study at the end of the day how we got there.”
Speaking out and pushing teammates on this is seen as “violating the code,” the same reason players aren’t supposed to get involved in teammates’ personal or financial decisions. Whether it should be in that category is another question. The vaccine is about public safety and the health of people around you and society as a whole — vaccinated people are proven to be less likely to pass the virus on to others, and to suffer less severe symptoms if they do have a breakthrough infection. That is good for a team trying to get through a long season — with a lot of travel and time spent in tight quarters together — while staying healthy. Is that the same as messing with a teammate’s business?
While that can be up for debate, Curry’s comments give us insight into what players think. Ultimately, players are under no obligation to speak out, and it sounds like most are going to keep their thoughts and shots to themselves.