LeBron James Says He'll Keep Decision on COVID-19 Vaccine 'A Private Thing'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James warms up before theirNBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James offered an interesting response Sunday when asked by reporters whether he would get a COVID-19 vaccine when he was eligible to receive one. 

"That's a conversation my family and I will have," he said. "I'll keep that to a private thing."

On Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league and the Players' Association "are in agreement that no one should be mandated to take the vaccine," per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne

"My recommendation, my strong recommendation, not just to our players, but based on all the information I have, is that people should get vaccinated," he added. "But I recognize that these are individual decisions. I haven't been vaccinated yet, but I will, as soon as it is my turn."

Silver noted the CDC's recent announcement that folks who have received the vaccine won't need to quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 would likely change the league's current health and safety guidelines:

"I think, for example, to accept that a vaccinated player doesn't have to quarantine will be very liberating. In addition, we have a fairly complex set of rules in place now that in many cases require twice-a-day lab testing of our players to ensure that we can avoid spread. It may be the case that when players are vaccinated, that we're able to loosen up the testing schedules and therefore give players more freedom."

Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, for example, were each ruled out of Sunday's All-Star Game after reportedly coming into contact with a barber who tested positive for the coronavirus. In the future, both players might not be forced to miss time in such a scenario should they be vaccinated. 

James' answer to the question of whether he'll get the vaccine will undoubtedly be scrutinized given how respected his voice is both around the NBA and in popular culture generally. James wasn't the only player who wasn't willing to definitively say they'll get the vaccine:

Sarah Todd @NBASarah

worth noting that there are still a number of NBA players that are unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Donovan Mitchell and James Harden among those who today said they haven’t decided what they’ll be doing as far as the vaccine is concerned.

Dan Feldman @DanFeldmanNBA

In fairness to Jared Dudley, this matches what many public-health officials are saying. Also: Those public-health officials are dangerously wrong in their messaging. https://t.co/JMrrJwc7vD

Jeff Zillgitt @JeffZillgitt

@JaredDudley619 That’s fair. But I think with the vaccine, the restrictions on going out for players will be loosened and you won’t have to get tested daily. I also understand your point. With that said, healthy NBA players might be able to get the vaccine for a few months anyway.

Sean Highkin @highkin

Maybe not a ton of people will change their mind and decide to get the vaccine if NBA players say to, but people might second-guess it if players are on the fence or don't want to.

"I also respect that not everyone will see it the way we do," Silver said about players who may be on the fence when it comes to the vaccine. "And ultimately, this is an individual decision that players need to make."