Earlier this week, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took to Substack to address the Spider-Man meme posted by LeBron James on Christmas Eve featuring three cartoon superheroes labeled “cold”, “flu” and “covid” pointing to each other with the subtitle “help me friends.”
The post, which remains on James’ Instagram page, has more than two million likes and nearly 50,000 comments.
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While Abdul-Jabbar praised James for being “a leader in the African-American community in fighting inequality,” he said the Lakers star’s post was “a blow to his worthy legacy” and implored him to use his platform to help the black community. “overcome your [vaccine] hesitation and save lives. “
“Vaccine hesitancy is greater in the black community than in any other,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “While there are certainly justifiable historical reasons for blacks to be skeptical of the health care system that has routinely marginalized, ignored, and even illegally experimented on them, that is not enough to justify compromising their health and even losing their lives during the current period of health crisis.
“To directly address LeBron’s confusion, no one thinks colds and flu are not serious. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 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 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, the death is extremely rare. “
“While LeBron is a necessary and dynamic voice criticizing police brutality against the Black community, he must be the same necessary and dynamic advocate for vaccines, which could save thousands of Black lives right now,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “Racism is so real, and so deadly, in both cases.”
Following a win over the Rockets on Tuesday, James was asked if he had an answer to Abdul-Jabbar’s essay. He initially said no before explaining his reasoning for posting the meme.
“No, I don’t have an answer for Kareem at all.” James said. “And if you saw the post and read the label, you will know that I am literally and honestly asking, ‘Help me.’ Help me figure it out, like we’re all trying to solve this pandemic.
“We are all trying to find out COVID and the new strain. And the flu, I think people forgot about the flu. People literally like to forget about the flu during these times, as if it is still circulating. It is the season of flu, so people have forgotten about the flu. People have forgotten about the common colds. That happens, especially with many of our children who are in school.
“My daughter is in first grade, so a lot of these kids are catching like the common cold and catching the flu. But no, I have no answer to Kareem. No. Not at all.”
Entitled “Dear LeBron: Here’s the COVID-19 Help You Requested in Your Spider-Man Meme,” Abdul-Jabbar’s full essay to James can be read here.