One of the most remarkable twists in the pandemic is that a handful of NBA players have emerged as the most cogent and principled defenders of liberty, common sense, and basic civic decency in America.
It’s a bit unexpected. In recent years, the NBA has most often landed in the political news cycle thanks to LeBron James’ disgusting habit of bowing and scraping before the Chinese Communist Party, or Steve Kerr’s refusal to breathe a word about the suppression of protests in Hong Kong or the oppression of Uighur Muslims while lecturing everyone on the evils of systemic racism and gun ownership in America.
If you had said a year ago that 24-year-old Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic, or the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, or Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving would somehow be voices of calm, reason, and tolerance amid a moral panic about COVID-19 vaccines pushed relentlessly by corporate media and the Democratic Party, no one would have believed you. Yet here we are.
Green spoke for millions of Americans during a press conference last week when he said the vaccine debate “has turned into a political war,” and that with medical decisions like getting the Covid shot, “You have to honor people’s feelings and their own personal beliefs.” Forcing people to get the vaccine, he said, “goes against everything America stands for.”
Draymond Green on why he doesn't pressure his teammates to get vaccinated: "We’re dealing with something that to me feels like has turned into a political war" pic.twitter.com/x9q834g31n
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) October 1, 2021
Green, it should be noted. isn’t an anti-vaxxer. Like most NBA players, he chose to get a COVID vaccine. But Green understands what the reporters covering the NBA seemingly do not: that getting the vaccine or not getting it should be a private matter, just like any other medical decision, and no one should be coerced into it.
The issue has come to a head because of municipal public health orders in New York and San Francisco that would bar any unvaccinated NBA player from playing in home games in New York City and San Francisco. That includes Green’s teammate Andrew Wiggins, who said back in March he would not get a vaccine unless he was forced to. Wiggins, who applied to the NBA for a religious exemption and was rejected last month, confirmed this week he got the shot but that, “It’s not something I wanted to do, but was kind of forced to.”
Isaac and Irving, however, have not gotten the shot, at least not yet. It’s unclear what that will mean for Irving specifically, given that all of New York City is under a public health order issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio that requires proof of vaccination for entry into professional sports arenas, including Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets’ home court.
Irving has been quiet about his vaccination status, but last month Isaac gave one of the clearest and most succinct explanations of why he hasn’t gotten the vaccine. Asked about it at a press conference last month, he explained that he has already had COVID and now has natural antibodies to the virus.
Combined with his age and fitness level, getting COVID again is “not necessarily a fear of mine,” he said, while taking the vaccine opens him up to the “albeit rare chance but the possibility of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine.”
Jonathan Isaac shares that he's had Covid in the past when answering a question on vaccine hesitancy. pic.twitter.com/acwqXgjhEA
— Beyond the RK (@beyondtheRK) September 27, 2021
As Glenn Greenwald has noted, this is an entirely reasonable position for someone in Isaac’s position to take: he’s in his early 20s, has natural immunity, and is about as physically fit as a person can get. “In fact, during the entire course of the pandemic, the total number of people aged 15-24 (Isaac’s age group) who have died of COVID — in a country of 330 million people — is 1,372: fewer than the number in that age group who have died of non-COVID pneumonia.”
That Isaac would emerge as a voice of reason against a media and corporate establishment that looks down on the unvaccinated as anti-science underscores just how anti-science their COVID discourse has become.
And not just anti-science, but anti-conscience. Isaac told Shannon Bream of Fox News this week that the issue is much bigger than whether someone is vaccinated, or has had COVID , because the whole thing is a matter of conscience.
“Everyone should be free to make the decision for themselves,” he said, adding that he believes the government “is setting a precedent that, in light of any emergency, your personal autonomy, your religious freedom, and honestly your freedom as a whole becomes negotiable.”
— Fox News @ Night (@foxnewsnight) October 5, 2021
Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal also seems to have a firmer grasp of freedom of conscience and speech than the entire corporate press, which has repeatedly attacked him for his vaccine hesitancy and for comments he made the first day of Wizards training camp, including that he is not vaccinated for personal reasons.
Following that press conference, some reporters distorted his comments to suggest he was calling into question the efficacy of the vaccines, which in turn forced Beal to address the matter again. The next day, he said this:
One thing I want to get clear is I’m not sitting up here advocating or campaigning that ‘No, you should not get that vaccine.’ I want to get that straight, I’m not sitting up here saying ‘vaccines are bad.’ I’m not sitting up here saying ‘this vaccine is bad.’ I’m not sitting up here saying that you shouldn’t get it. It is a personal decision between every individual, that’s it. Right? And I have that personal right to keep it to myself or keep it with my family and I would like everybody to respect that.
At this point, it’s basically the entire corporate media, along with most of corporate America, Big Tech, Hollywood, and the entire Democratic Party versus a few NBA players who are willing to speak clearly and unapologetically about an issue that every American should understand innately.
That’s a credit to players like Isaac and Beal, but a searing indictment of our elites, whose last resort, it seems, is to smear anyone who doesn’t accept their crumbling pandemic narratives.