Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Slams LeBron James for His 'Uninformed' COVID Meme: A 'Blow' to His 'Legacy'

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said LeBron James needs to be just as vocal about encouraging COVID vaccines as he is with social justice

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; LeBron James
Photo: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock; Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is slamming LeBron James' use of his social media platform after the NBA star posted a meme about COVID-19.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers forward, 36, shared a meme on social media that showed a cartoon illustration of three Spidermen pointing at each other. Each superhero had a label — one being the "flu," another read "COVID," while the last figure was marked "cold."

"🤷🏾‍♂️ Help me out folks," James captioned the post, which prompted criticism from commenters — who suggested that the post implies the three illnesses are the same.

In a lengthy essay, Abdul-Jabbar, 74, condemned James' meme, calling it an "uninformed" post that "puts lives and livelihoods at risk."

"To directly address LeBron's confusion, no one thinks colds and the flu aren't serious," he said. "Experts agree that COVID-19 is at least 10 times more lethal than the flu. As for the common cold, death is extremely rare."

The NBA legend also claimed James' post was "a blow to his worthy legacy," and doesn't help with vaccine hesitancy considering the athlete has such a large following.

"With 106 million Instagram followers, making such a post is automatically politically impactful because he questions the validity of the efforts to get the country vaccinated," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "As is evident by some of the comments that cheer LeBron's post, he's given support to those not getting vaccinated, which makes the situation for all of us worse by postponing our health and economic recovery."

In September, James shared that he received the vaccination for himself and his family, but said it's "not my job" to encourage others to do the same.

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In his essay, Abdul-Jabbar argued that it's important for celebrities and influencers, specifically those in the Black community where hesitancy is high, to encourage vaccination.

"​​While LeBron is a necessary and dynamic voice critical of police brutality against the Black community, he needs to be the same necessary and dynamic advocate with vaccines, which could save thousands of Black lives right now," he wrote.

"We're all for freedom, but not at the expense of others nor if it damages the country," Abdul-Jabbar said in another post criticizing the Lakers star. "That's why we mandate seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, car insurance, education for our children."

On Tuesday, James addressed his controversial post following the Lakers' 132-123 win over the Houston Rockets.

"No, I don't have a response to Kareem at all," he told reporters. "And if you saw the post and you read the tag, you're literally, honestly asking, 'Help me out?' Help me kind of figure it all out. We're all trying to figure this pandemic out and the new strain."

"I think people forgot about the flu," James added. "People like literally forgot about the flu during these times like that's still going around, it's flu season. People have forgot about common colds. That happens, especially with a lot of our kids that's in school. My daughter is in first grade, so a lot of these kids are getting like common colds and getting the flu. But no, I don't have any response to Kareem."

Despite the backlash, James has not deleted his meme on Instagram.

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