LeBron James was ‘skeptical’ about vaccines but he still got vaxxed

World Premiere of No Time To Die on Tuesday 28 September 2021

LeBron James played late into the last NBA season, which partially adhered to bubble rules. He managed to get through the spring without ever talking in depth about vaccines and whether he had gotten the Covid vaccine or planned to. Yesterday was Media Day for the Lakers, and one of the first questions he got was obviously about Covid vaccines. The NBA already has a better record than the NFL on vaccinations, and several NBA teams have succeeded in doing “soft mandates” for players and behind-the-scenes workers. The general manager of the Lakers hasn’t mandated it, but he’s strongly encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. So here’s what LeBron had to say:

LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers star, said Tuesday that he had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, after evading questions about his vaccination status last season. Several other high-profile N.B.A. players have resisted getting vaccinated ahead of the start of the N.B.A. season next month.

“I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family,” James said. “I know that I was very skeptical about it all, but after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but for my family and my friends, and that’s why I decided to do it.”

James did not say which vaccine he had taken, or the number of doses he had received. He also said he would not use his platform to publicly encourage others to be vaccinated.

“We’re talking about individuals’ bodies,” he said. “We’re not talking about something that’s political or racism or police brutality and things of that nature. So I don’t feel like for me personally that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods.”

Rob Pelinka, the general manager of the Lakers, said last week that he expects the team’s entire roster to be fully vaccinated ahead of its season opener against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 19. Kent Bazemore, one of the team’s new players, said he was reluctant to be vaccinated before Pelinka persuaded him to receive his first dose.

[From The NY Times]

LeBron is getting credit – as he should – for talking about being vaccinated and making sure his family is vaccinated, and being open about his early skepticism. Good for him on all of that, but… this bugs: “I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family.” Why are dudes constantly “borrowing” the language of “my body my choice” for vaccines? Covid is a public health crisis and a deadly viral illness. This isn’t about “choice.” Oh well, I hope LeBron convinces some people to trust the vaccine.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, screencap courtesy of ESPN.

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41 Responses to “LeBron James was ‘skeptical’ about vaccines but he still got vaxxed”

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  1. Bryn says:

    I dont understand people who are skeptical of the vaccine. Do they not know anything about history or do they not have a childhood record of their own vaccinations? I’m more skeptical of what would happen to myself or my loved ones if we got covid without being vaccinated.

    • Izzy says:

      These same people don’t know anyone who’s had polio or smallpox, but they don’t stop for even a hot minute to think about WHY that might be.

      • Ceegee says:

        My dad had polio and died at age 67 of viral pneumonia with complications caused by post-polio about 4.5 years ago. The polio vaccine came out a year after he was diagnosed, and was also too late for his brother and sister who were also diagnosed and hospitalized (for years!) with polio as children.

        All of this to say, my mother refuses to get vaccinated for COVID – it is absolutely mind-boggling to witness her arguments regarding this when you consider how polio directly affected our lives. There is no logic to this – I have talked to her at length, shown her the science, straight up told her she is embarrassing and hurting me, and she still wont back down. I’m convinced this is because of facebook and being around other idiots who all just spur each other one with their ridiculous theories.

        I’m 33 and I try to bring polio up with people my own age often – it’s not something that happened a million years ago. It had a profound and direct impact on my life. I have zero patience left for anti-vaxxers and I cannot imagine how awful it much feel if you legitimately CANT get vaccinated and are having your life ruined by these selfish selfish SELFISH human beings.

    • LadyMTL says:

      My dad was very skeptical in part because he felt that it had been developed ‘too quickly’ (his words, not mine.) That, and he’s always been slightly suspicious of authority / governments. I know he sounds like a loon but he’s really not, I promise! LOL. Even with that, he did get his two shots as soon as he could, so at the end of the day it all worked out.

      • Paloma says:

        I read the explanation of how it was done quickly and it makes a lot of sense. Usually there are delays with authorizations and studies. It’s not that anything was rushed it’s that it was given priority and not delayed between all these steps. It’s not that the actual science part was rushed or done « less » than usual. So it makes a lot of sense to me though I know I’m not explaining it well.

      • STRIPE says:

        I also think the science (mRNA vaccines/treatments) has been in the works for some time so while this may be the first well known use, the delivery system wasn’t created in the last 2 years.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        @Paloma – usually the longest part of any large clinical trial is recruitment of study subjects (followed closely by study start up – getting the sites up & running). The primary reason the vax studies were completed so quickly had nothing to do with regulatory authorization to start a trial. In the US, the FDA reviews protocols but they don’t approve them (except those conducted under a special process that’s rarely used) for them to get started.

        The reason study start up timelines were greatly expedited was because both pharma companies & study sites shifted resources to focus on COVID vax studies. The reason study data was available so quickly is because people were eager to participate in the trials and actively seeking out sites where they were being conducted so enrollment targets were met with record speed.

        There were exponentially more people exposed to the vaccines in the submitted for the EUAs & BLAs than we are required to submit for most meds

    • El says:

      Many of these people are getting a lot of misinformation. I have one FB friend who posts where she is getting her information. Some of her sources have a nugget of truth that has been spun into something it isn’t and some sources state things that are just biologically impossible. She is prone to believe conspiracy theories and doesn’t trust reliable sources. She describes herself as an independent critical thinker, but she isn’t demonstrating that. Also in her case, she has chronic pain and health problems that she blames on medication she took in the past. I’m both worried about her and so very frustrated with her.

    • Korra says:

      A lot of people aren’t intellectually curious. Instead, they opt to form opinions on their gut instinct and then back their assertions with (mis)information that validates them. The famous Issac Asimov quote about people defining democracy as their own ignorance being equally as important as knowledge has never been truer today.

  2. Izzy says:

    He did his own research. LeBron James, virologist and vaccine expert.

    • Valentina says:

      I live in a country with a huge vaccine culture that I can’t compute how people can still doubt science to the point of going to do their “own research”.

    • lucy2 says:

      It bugs me when people say that. I wish he’d said “I was skeptical, but I spoke with my doctor and listened to the experts.”

      • Pusspants says:

        It also annoys me to hear people say they are doing their own “research.” I get that many are referring to the non-scientific meaning of the word, but the lack of respect for real science & research that has flourished in the past 10-15 yrs makes this kind of statement ignorant in this context. It’s not like he researched the best lawn mower to buy by going on Consumer Reports. I do like LeBron but this one is a big misstep.

    • SaySo says:

      The research could have been speaking with his team of healthcare professionals that know his medical history. Finding out the ingredients or side effects, or even observing the people close to him that have had the vaccine before just showing up to get it. I had covid in April 2020 and I was still hesitant to get the vaccine until I found out more. There is nothing wrong with going to reputable sources for information. That counts as research to me. 🤷‍♀️

      • Izzy says:

        Yeah, no. When people say “I did my own research”, they mean they read something someone wrote on Instagram. Otherwise it would be “read the available scientific research.”

      • IMARA219 says:

        SaySo, I agree. I take individual experiences at face value in these types of situations. I’m sure LeBron was “researching” by discussing with his medical team, and honestly, that’s perfectly appropriate and alright. I don’t know why people want to keep boxing responding to EITHER/OR, Black/White categorizations.

  3. ME says:

    For the longest time he wouldn’t say if he had gotten the vaccine or not. I do think the fact that the NBA pretty much made it mandatory to get the vaccine is the real reason he went and got it. Either way, good for him for doing it and actually admitting he got it. I mean, how else are we going to get out of this f*cking pandemic?

  4. STRIPE says:

    I also think what is so often missing from conversation with antivaxxers is that getting vaccinated doesn’t just save your life, it keeps you out of the ICU so people with heart attacks and other urgent needs can be seen and not die from treatable issues. Several entire states are down to 1 or no ICU beds at any given time these days.

    They are so focused on “COVID has a 98% survival rate why bother!” Well, it’s not just about surviving it’s about staying out of the hospital.

    Although, I’m not sure it will matter. If you don’t care enough about your fellow man to get vaxxed/wear a mask, I’m not sure you care about hospital capacity (unless it’s YOU getting denied a bed).

    • HoofRat says:

      Our hospital system in Alberta is collapsing right now, thanks to our psychopathic, narcissistic excuse for a Premier. And I’ve recently discovered that several family members are unvaccinated because “nobody’s going to tell them what to do” with their bodies. My 80+ mother, who remembers polio and got her shots as soon as she could, is terribly worried and profoundly depressed by all of this stupidity. I’m seriously considering altering my will to remove a couple of those relatives- but chances are I’ll outlive them, so I might as well save the lawyer fees.

      • BUBS says:

        So sorry for what you and your mum are going through. I thought the premier had finally imposed a lockdown and mandatory vaccinations. Wow!

      • Jordana says:

        @Hoofrat, I’m in Alberta too. It’s appalling what the antivaxxers have done. I know of more than 1 person who has not received urgent care, even cancer biopsy delayed.
        I call them all antivaxxers, because at this point, the vaccine has been available for months and if they havent woken up and got vaxxed by now, they are against it.
        Kenbabe’s press conference yesterday was a confusing laughable mess. He tried to imply that his $100 incentive is driving an increase in vaccination rates, but we all know it was the r.e.p. or not a passport passport. I hate him. I honestly hate him so much.

  5. NCWoman says:

    Have an abortion? You won’t kill your neighbor’s grandma and infect 30 other people who may have long-term health problems even if they don’t die. You won’t contribute to the development of a variant that vaccines may not work against. It impacts you and your body, period, from a public health perspective. Choose not to vaccinate? You’re making a choice that will harm others–and likely will make you a murderer. You’re choosing your own convenience over murdering living, breathing humans.

  6. souperkay says:

    Vaccines are a universal good that have changed the world for the better. Anyone who says any different is trying to sell you something, something that will not work like a vaccine but will make them money. Remember the wellness woo woo industry selling “vitamins” is where the antivaxx bread and butter was built, specifically by rich white people who believed their inherent whiteness protected them from disease. Eugenics & racism being the core of it, but now it has morphed into this multi-headed monster.

    A total failure of leadership by Lebron. Complete cowardice. Shameful.

  7. cassandra says:

    The African American community has a long history of being abused, lied to, and exploited by doctors and our medical system. A little skepticism and hesitancy isn’t unexpected.

    Hopefully more prominent athletes/celebs come out with their vaccination status. Although, at this point, I figure if you aren’t vaxxed by choice nothing can convince you.

  8. Margaret Young says:

    As a PhD who did, literally, decades of research into my areas of specialty I want to scream and throw things when people like James talk of ‘doing research.’ Reading things on the internet without the requisite reading, training and practice isn’t research.

    • Ashley L. says:

      Agreed! It would be much better if they said (and actually did it) I spoke with my doctor whom I trust and that convinced me that getting vaccinated was safe and the right thing to do for myself, my family, and my community.

    • Moneypenny424 says:

      While I totally understand where you’re coming from, LeBron did not specify what he did. HE has shown to be a fairly thoughtful person in the past, not some Trumper/QAnon weirdo (and I agree, most of their research is looking at some quack on YouTube). He is surrounded by medical professionals and we do not know that his “research” was not talking to those people or public health workers about the vaccine.

      I’m the chair of a Board of Health and have been living and breathing COVID since January 2020. If someone talked to me or someone in the Department and said that was research, I’d be ok with that.

  9. girl_ninja says:

    Let us not discount that the Black American community has been the target of unethical medical experiments. Tuskegee Experiment or Tuskegee Syphilis Study was dangerous and abused so many black men in this country. I understand the apprehension because I had them myself before getting my shot. He got the shot and he’s being honest about his fears/concerns. This is a good thing.

    • Emma says:

      I agree, at the same time this particular situation isn’t a secret experiment being conducted on marginalized people. Presidents and billionaires are getting the shot.

    • A says:

      People were concerned with his wording around recommending it to others, or not recommending as it were. “Talking about individuals bodies”.

    • TIFFANY says:

      Those men were lied to about getting treatment. People love to throw the Tuskegee Experiment as a excuse for ignorance and that just proves more.

      If this vaccine was such a problem, it would not have been so accessible to all. Rich, white people would not have been taking it. Period. It would have been flooding every poor and non white neighborhoods to see the results if this vaccine was a problem.

      • Moneypenny424 says:

        They do not throw it around for no reason. That is only one example of the racism that is still very real in healthcare and that many people face every day. I mean, I literally just went to an online talk at Harvard School of Public Health yesterday on racism in health care delivery–there are reasons some feel they have to distrust.

        Now, myself and many others get out there and try to educate people in our community that the vaccine is safe. Working with other community leaders, we get out the message and hope it works. The distrust goes well beyond just this vaccine.

      • Korra says:

        I think your point about racism and health equity are the critical point here. Access to healthcare and the exorbitant costs to get quality treatment are appalling in this country if you are not rich or have good insurance; communities of color tend to suffer the most because of these health inequities. There is no doubt an overlap between people who are vaccine hesitant and who don’t have access to comprehensive healthcare. When you don’t have an existing relationship with a healthcare provider you can trust, you are will naturally be more skeptical of a system that feels exclusionary to you.

        Misformation, issues with access to vaccines, and historical atrocities like the Tuskegee Experiment have all contributed to vaccine hesitancy/anti-vaccine sentiments, especially with the Black community, but the systemic failure of our healthcare system in the US cannot be ignored either.

    • court says:

      Thank you! Medicine is STILL ableist, racist, and sexist, it’s just that some privileged people have never had to experience that.

      • Moneypenny424 says:

        Exactly. We need to educate people and respect their context and experiences. I’m black and I don’t personally feel like I’ve experience a lot of racism in healthcare–but I 100% know it exists. We all have to appreciate that just because one group has not had a bad experience, it does not negate bad experiences others have faced.

  10. Lauren says:

    I understand where the hesitance of the black community comes from, but for god sake, there are black doctors, virologists, scientists who those hesitant can speak to and ask for advice. I hope that Lebron didn’t go on Facebook to do his research. I’ve been trying to convince my cousin to get vaxxed, but she continues to say that she is afraid of feeling sick after getting the shots, I understand, but I’ve been telling her that every person is different and not everyone is feeling bad after the first or second shot. In my household no one got bad side effects, I was the worse one-off and I just had an achy arm and felt tired AF for a couple of days.

  11. BUBS says:

    If only women were given the same grace about their reproductive choices, as is being given to those who refuse to get the vaccine!

  12. Valerie says:

    I understand the history of hesitation and fear, but I think that he’s following the money more than anything else. In taking a clear stance, he risks alienating fans, which equals a loss of $$. A drop in the bucket for him, but still a loss. He’s just being selfish, imo.

  13. Green Desert says:

    I have loved Lebron’s activism over the past few years. However. I also don’t like this and hate the language used. Aaron Rodgers said something similar recently, about how getting vaxxed or not is a personal choice. F*ck that. Do not co-opt reproductive rights language to talk about this. And the doing-my-own research sh*t. I hate that a distrust of science has affected more liberal people like LeBron.

    I’m a biracial black woman and I know the history of racism and abuse within the medical community towards communities of color. However, I don’t think that’s what’s going on here with LeBron. If he wanted to have a really nuanced conversation about that, fine. But he’s not, so I think it’s letting him off the hook to think that’s behind his reasoning.

  14. IMARA219 says:

    I appreciate LeBron being open about his thought process. Medical Racism is far-reaching and pervasive, and AAs have a right to be hesitant about specific medical issues. It’s normal for the community to re-act that way and psychologically process through the generational trauma associated with medicine being used as a weapon. He went through the process, It sounds as if he discussed the matter with his medical team, and he moved forward.

  15. eliza james says:

    Not helpful, LeBron.