The National Basketball Association (NBA) is considering vaccinating players publicly in an effort to promote confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday.
Silver emphasized instilling confidence in the African-American community in particular, according to ESPN.
“There’s been enormous resistance [to vaccinations] in the African American community for understandable historical reasons,” Silver said at a virtual conference. Resistance to the vaccine is “something we’re particularly focused on,” Silver continued, according to ESPN. Only 26% of African-Americans described themselves as likely to get a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent poll. (RELATED: Harris Repeats She Will Not Take Trump-Backed Vaccine)
Hall of Fame center and all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar released a public service announcement on Twitter on Jan. 17 that shows him receiving his vaccine. Abdul-Jabbar is 73, so he was eligible to receive the vaccine as a senior citizen.
“Let’s do this together.”
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2021
Silver’s announcement comes on the heels of Charles Barkley’s call for professional athletes to receive COVID-19 vaccines outside of the state-mandated order. “As much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment,” Barkley said on TNT.
Charles Barkley says NBA/NFL players should jump the line and get vaccine shots because they pay more taxes than normal people pic.twitter.com/ce5y1WTTOk
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 15, 2021
Silver had previously said that the NBA would not request special treatment for its players in receiving the vaccine.”Our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations,” he told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith in December.
The NBA faced backlash from politicians such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after the league privately tested players during last spring’s nationwide test shortage. “An entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio said at the time, according to NY1.