As the United States and the rest of the world try to return to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic, the two biggest stars and brands in sports could and should join forces to get the message out on the importance of people within their community getting vaccinated.
The Center For Disease Control (CDC) reports that Black Americans are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White Americans. To complicate matters, White Americans are being vaccinated at a rate three times greater than African Americans.
There has been and remains hesitancy in the black community to getting vaccines. The history of such studies like The Tuskegee Study, and The Henrietta Lacks Case among others, where Black Americans have been mistreated and targeted by the medical community, has rightfully caused consternation.
With that in my mind, a joint effort by LeBron James and Michael Jordan can assuage those fears. A Public Service Announcement with the two greatest players in NBA history could sway many within the black community to get vaccinated.
Recently James was asked if he plans on getting vaccinated. James said it was a private matter. I totally respect his privacy but James has never shied away from partaking in conversations beyond scoring, passing, and rebounding. I fully expect the best leader in the NBA to not only be more transparent about this issue, but to encourage others to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Jordan has been nearly as reclusive as Howard Hughes since retiring in 2003. But he remains the most beloved and respected athlete in the United States, if not the world.
Meanwhile, the third and fourth greatest players ever, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, received their vaccinations publicly. Russell is 87 years old while Abdul-Jabbar is 73. Both are in the most vulnerable age group. Hopefully, with those two all-time great players and social leaders getting their vaccines, many in the African American community will get vaccinated.
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But, James and Jordan are at a different level of popularity and brand awareness than Russell and Abdul-Jabbar.
Getting James and Jordan to join forces may not be easy to make happen. While James grew up idolizing Jordan, Jordan has never embraced James. Jordan is petty and sees enemies around every corner. But, any differences should be put aside in order to save lives.
Perhaps former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey can broker a detente between the two number 23’s.
I bet LeBron would embrace this. The ball would then be in Michael Jordan’s court.
John Sapochetti is co-host of three podcasts heard on Full Press Radio:
-The Pick & Roll NBA Podcast With Jet & Sap
-The Sap & Kat Show
-The Get Off My Lawn Podcast With Keegan & Sap
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