Report: NBA Spoke to Biden Transition Team About COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The NBA reportedly made contact with the transition team working for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to propose the idea of using players to raise confidence about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine within the Black community. 

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Wednesday the players would volunteer and receive the vaccine at a large-scale distribution center as a form of public service announcement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A November poll by Pew Research showed just 42 percent of Black respondents were planning to get the vaccine once it became widely available.

It's not an effort by the NBA to skip the line in vaccine distribution, something NBA commissioner Adam Silver previously said wouldn't happen, and would be focused on the "LeBron James and Steph Curry types" of high-profile players to combat skepticism among the general public, per Amick.

Silver hinted toward some type of PSA campaign during an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith in December:

"There's no way we'd ever jump the line in any form whatsoever. And, for the most part, because our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations. There are some other members of the NBA community working on court who are older and will have a higher priority to get the vaccine.

"We will very likely be part of some public service campaigns, we already talked to the CDC and other federal agencies about that, encouraging people to get vaccinated when it is appropriate. But up until then, we will just be watching and waiting."

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The report comes as the NBA postponed six games over the past four days because of rising coronavirus cases around the league and subsequent contact-tracing measures.

Biden and Harris, who've both received COVID-19 vaccine shots on camera as part of a similar effort to build public trust, are scheduled for a Jan. 20 inauguration.

They've pledged to increase distribution of the two FDA-approved vaccines after taking office.