Legendary NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says that there is  “no room" for unvaccinated players in the league. Abdul-Jabbar discussed the NBA's vaccination rules with Matt Sullivan for a new piece in Rolling Stone.

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” Abdul-Jabbar explained in an email correspondence with the outlet. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, COVID-19, Vaccine
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Abdul-Jabbar added that he doesn't expect all athletes to be spokespersons for political issues, but vaccination is too important.

“They are failing to live up to the responsibilities that come with celebrity," he continued. "Athletes are under no obligation to be spokespersons for the government, but this is a matter of public health,” the Hall-of-Famer writes Rolling Stone in an e-mail. Abdul-Jabbar is especially disappointed in athletes of color: “By not encouraging their people to get the vaccine, they’re contributing to these deaths. I’m also concerned about how this perpetuates the stereotype of dumb jocks who are unable to look at verified scientific evidence and reach a rational conclusion.”