Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not overly amused by a COVID-19 meme posted by Lakers superstar LeBron James.
The photo, which James posted on Christmas Eve, is Spider-Man’s pointing meme featuring three cartoon superheroes labeled “cold,” “flu,” and “covid” pointing to each other, including a caption that reads “Help me folks. , “along with a shrugging emoji.
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James, who has more than 100 million followers on Instagram, has received more than two million likes on the post and a large number of comments from verified accounts, including other NBA players, musicians and actors.
On Monday, December 27, Abdul-Jabbar approached Substack to address James’s post, calling it “a blow to his worthy legacy.” The 74-year-old continued, adding that “the implication of the meme is that LeBron does not understand the difference between these three diseases, even after all the information that has been presented in the press.”
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Abdul-Jabbar introduced his criticism by saluting James for his game on the court and his work off the court to be a leader in the African-American community. However, Abdul-Jabbar says that James’ post and early-season comments on the COVID-19 vaccine could have a negative impact on the black community.
In response to James’s statement in September that he would refuse to take a public stance on the COVID-19 vaccine because it is not “something political, racism, or police brutality,” Abdul-Jabbar responded with statistics that in 2023, ” communities of people of color still suffer at a much greater rate than white communities. “
“In November 2023, the CDC stated: ‘It has highlighted that health equity is not yet a reality, as COVID-19 has unevenly affected many racial and ethnic minority groups, putting them at greater risk of becoming ill and dying. for COVID-19, ‘”Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
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While James has not clarified whether the meme was intended to compare the three illnesses, Abdul-Jabbar also addressed the meme itself, adding that “no one believes that colds and flu are not serious. In the 2019 flu season- By 2020, 400,000 people were hospitalized and 22,000 people died. In 2020, 385,428 people died of COVID-19, while so far in 2023, 423,558 have died in the US, for a total of 808,986 deaths. Experts agree that COVID-19 is at least 10 times more deadly than the flu. As for the common cold, death is extremely rare. “
Through his use of facts and statistics, Abdul-Jabbar implores James to use his platform and influence to help the black community overcome a “meme-promoting vaccine vacillation.”
Abdul-Jabbar’s full letter to James can be found here.