Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rips LeBron James for 'uninformed' COVID meme

LeBron had posted meme about coronavirus last week with Spider-Man heroes

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NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came after LeBron James in his latest SubStack column on Monday.

Abdul-Jabbar criticized the Los Angeles Lakers superstar for posting a coronavirus-related meme last week. The meme showed three Spider-Man superheroes pointing at each other. One was labeled COVID, the other flu and the third one labeled cold.

"Help me out folks," James wrote in the caption of the Instagram post.

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LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw during the game against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 28, 2021, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw during the game against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 28, 2021, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Abdul-Jabbar suggested James was spreading coronavirus misinformation and was doing a disservice to the Black community, who he says have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic.

"The meme’s implication is that LeBron doesn’t understand the difference among these three illnesses, even after all the information that’s been presented in the press. Well, since he asked, let me help him out by explaining the difference—and how knowing that difference might save lives, especially in the Black community," the former NBA center wrote in his column.

Abdul-Jabbar took issue with James’ statement in September about encouraging others to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the harsh side effects of COVID-19. He said the Instagram post is "automatically politically impactful because he questions the validity of the efforts to get the country vaccinated."

Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies basketball game at Staples Center on Feb. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies basketball game at Staples Center on Feb. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork S. Djansezian/Getty Images)

"As is evident by some of the comments that cheer LeBron’s post, he’s given support to those not getting vaccinated, which makes the situation for all of worse by postponing our health and economic recovery," he wrote. "The CDC reports that those who are unvaccinated are 9 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and 14 times more likely to die from COVID than those vaccinated. The number rises to 20 time more likely when compared to someone who’s gotten a booster shot. By posting the uninformed meme, LeBron has encouraged vaccine hesitancy which puts lives and livelihoods at risk."

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Abdul-Jabbar wrote James should be helping promote flu vaccinations as well if he’s so concerned. 

"While LeBron is a necessary and dynamic voice critical of police brutality against the Black community, he needs to be the same necessary and dynamic advocate with vaccines, which could save thousands of Black lives right now. The racism is just as real—and just as lethal—in both cases," he concluded.

There were about 100 players in the league’s health and safety protocols as the NBA marched toward its marquee day in the regular season – Christmas. While the NFL has changed its COVID policy to test those who are showing symptoms of COVID, the NBA tightened is policy and is making teams hold vaccine booster events.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) goes to the basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Darius Bazley during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) goes to the basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Darius Bazley during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

On Thursday, the NBA mandated each team organize a booster-shot event for players, staff and family members by Dec. 31. The NBA told teams its data showed that boosters substantially reduce a person’s risk of being infected, and one out of every three players still isn’t boosted while 97% of the league is vaccinated.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week there were no plans to pause the season though numerous games had been postponed due to several COVID outbreaks plaguing teams.

"No plans right now to pause the season. We’ve of course looked at the options but frankly, we're having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now," Silver said on ESPN’s "NBA Today."

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"As we look through these cases, literally ripping through the country right now – putting aside the rest of the world, I think we’re finding ourselves where we knew we were going to get to for the past several months and that is that this virus will not be eradicated, and we’re going to have to learn to live with it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.