We often discuss progress, but we’re seeing some in the NBA as it relates to vaccinations.
We’re several weeks removed from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s op-ed, calling for NBA players to skip the line and get vaccinated, which we covered back in early February. It bears revisiting now that some players are not only getting vaccinated but, as Abdul-Jabbar requested, they’re showing us that they’re taking the step to publicly set an example for others.
Yesterday, The Athletic’s Trail Blazers reporter Jason Quick said that 12-of-15 Blazers received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Late last night, Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter posted that he had gotten vaccinated, posting photos with teammates Anfernee Simons, Derrick Jones Jr, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins. Kanter also noted Krispy Kreme’s promotion where a vaccine card will earn one a free original glazed donut, a promotion that will run between now and the end of 2021. (God bless, Krispy Kreme.)
And earlier in the day, Jusuf Nurkic did the same, saying, “I can’t live in fear of infecting someone else.”
This also comes days after the Atlanta Hawks were the second NBA team (after the New Orleans Pelicans) to publicly report they’ve received their shots. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 36 members of the Hawks basketball operations staff received their first doses as of last Thursday, which included 14 players on the roster. The remaining three players who didn’t get vaccinated are not yet eligible to receive their doses yet, RealGM notes.
“Increasing access to health, wellness, and play throughout the greater Atlanta community continues to be a priority for our organization,” the team said in a statement. “As eligibility for vaccination continues to expand, we intend to use our platform and influence to encourage and educate citizens on the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible, especially younger adults and communities of color.”
The Hawks even posted photos of players getting their first doses, including John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Danillo Gallinari, and Bruno Fernando.
For the Pelicans, eligible players were vaccinated over a week ago, and it was also reported that the Dallas Mavericks had been awaiting approval.
The Pelicans had also released a statement, which read the following:
“On March 9th, the State of Louisiana expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include people 18 years of age or older (16 years or older for the Pfizer vaccine) who meet certain health criteria that may result in a higher risk of disease. Yesterday, individuals within the New Orleans Pelicans organization who met the state health department’s eligibility requirements received the vaccine… The Pelicans and Ochsner Health will continue to team up to create PSAs and educational programming to raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and to highlight the power of large-scale vaccination in our community in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Along those vaccinated was backup swingman Sindarius Thornwell, who tweeted about it.
As Abdul-Jabbar noted, vaccine apprehension is legitimate in some of the communities NBA players come from, which is why he pleaded for them to set this example. It hasn’t caught on league-wide yet, but the numbers of vaccinations will undoubtedly increase as time goes by. Just remember to get your Krispy Kreme, too.