Many of the NBA’s top players are expressing apprehension about accepting invitations to participate in league-sponsored public service announcements to bolster broader acceptance of the coronavirus vaccine, sources told ESPN.
The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.
NBA All-Star 2021 to feature the Game and Skills competitions on one night for the first time on March 7. The NBA and NBPA are committing more than $2.5M toward HBCUs and provide support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 relief and vaccines.
A THREAD ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/doU1zWuuJq
— NBA (@NBA) February 18, 2021
Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.
On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn’t “jump the line” of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said. Nevertheless, that’s considered a fluid timeline, largely meant to reaffirm to teams the need to be prepared for whenever the opportunity to vaccinate players comes from public health officials, sources said.
The NBA shared with teams an expectation of 70 million to 100 million vaccine doses likely distributed by mid-March.
If rich white people are rushing to get the COVID vaccine, then IMO you can confidently assume that it’s safe and effective. The only way we get past COVID is if ALL communities come together and get vaccinated. This messaging from the NBA players sets back our whole country. https://t.co/hdFmkregjZ
— Slam Diego Padres fan (@KFloyd34) February 17, 2021
In the hours after the call with the league’s GMs, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the nation’s leading infectious disease expert — told CNN that his original hope of April as a target for widespread vaccine availability for those outside of priority groups could be pushed back.
“That timeline will probably be prolonged into mid- to late May and early June,” Fauci told CNN.