A “civil war” is brewing within the NBA over whether to impose a league-wide vaccine mandate.
Although league officials reportedly hope to ensure every member of the league receives a COVID vaccine, a strong coalition of NBA players — including many high-profile stars — are opposing any such mandatory requirements.
Among the stars leading the charge are Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic and, most notably, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Rolling Stone, many more professional athletes voiced their opinions during a recent annual players’ union summer meeting. The meeting was held to assess the upcoming season’s agenda. High on the list of items to be discussed was a “proposed mandate from the league office that 100 percent of players get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
For numerous players, the idea prompted one simple answer: “Non-starter.”
In response, various establishment media outlets labeled these players “anti-vaxxers” in a campaign of hit pieces targeting their credibility.
The Rolling Stone’s extensive report of the saga could certainly be construed as a hit piece, given its title — “The NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League — And It’s Working.”
Inside the NBA’s vaccine civil war: Will Kyrie skip home games? Has the league caved to players? Does one player even get how masks work? And what’s with that Moderna conspiracy theory in locker rooms?
— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) September 26, 2021
Notably, despite this title, many of the players refusing to take the vaccine do not appear to actually fit the traditional definition of “anti-vaxxer” (with a few possible exceptions). Although, it should be noted, most left-wing outlets today consider anyone who opposes vaccine mandates to fall within that category.
Rather than urge others to remain unvaccinated or spread conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine, these players have simply pointed out well-known facts and have promoted the right of every individual to make his/her own decision.
For example, in recent press conference appearances, both Beal and Isaac did as much, with Beal pointing out the efficacy of natural immunity as well as the shocking prevalence of breakthrough cases.
Washington Wizards Star Bradley Beal is dropping MASSIVE Red Pills on the NBA 💥
— Alex Sheppard 🇺🇸 (@NotAlexSheppard) September 28, 2021
“Every player, every person in this world is going to make their own decision for themselves,” Beal said. “It’s funny that oh, it reduces your chances of going to the hospital, it doesn’t eliminate anybody from getting COVID.”
“Yeah, I had it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get it again. It’s no different than somebody with the vaccine. Yes, I developed the antibodies for it, so my chances will be less likely now as well, right? But, there’s still the possibility I might get it. Just like there are players and coaches and staff who are vaxxed and missing camp right now because of it.
In his own comments, Isaac directly responded to how Rolling Stone’s coverage labeled him an “anti-vaxxer.”
Jonathan Isaac also teed off on the Rolling Stone story that called him anti-vacc. This is great too. Watch it: pic.twitter.com/vkafd5Q3bP
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 28, 2021
“I would start by saying that I was pretty badly misrepresented in the Rolling Stone article and because of that I can understand anyone who may say they don’t transparently or overtly trust the media,” Isaac said. “I am not anti-vax, I am not anti-medicine, I am not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current vaccination status by studying black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences.”
“I thank God, I’m grateful that I live in a society where vaccines are possible and we can protect ourselves and have the means to protect ourselves in the first place.”
Should vaccine mandates be legal?
“But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice and completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time.”
It actually appears that Rolling Stones’ own source — Kareem Abdul-Jabarr — is the one spreading conspiracy theories.
In comments given to the outlet, Abdul-Jabbar suggested that unvaccinated players are risking the “lives of their teammates,” when, in fact, the likelihood of a healthy NBA player dying from COVID-19 is infinitesimally small.
However, when it comes to mainstream coverage of COVID-19, disinformation tends to only be scrutinized if it comes from those who oppose the prevailing narrative.