Left-wing activist LeBron James violated the NBA's health and safety protocols last week by attending a promotional event for his tequila brand. The league, which has gone out of its way to excuse China's reckless disregard for human life, declined to punish the former superstar for rejecting science and putting lives at risk.
All available evidence suggests James has yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Attendees at the tequila party, which included celebs such as Drake and Michael B. Jordan, were required to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. The NBA's determination that James violated its COVID-19 safety protocols presumably stems from the fact that he continues to reject the pro-vaccine consensus of scientific experts.
James has repeatedly refused to say whether or not he has received a COVID-19 vaccine, insisting that believing in science (or not) is a "private thing." Asked again on Friday about his vaccination status, the Los Angeles Lakers forward dismissed the issue as "not a big deal" and offered some incomprehensible remarks about how his position on vaccines was a private family matter.
"Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority or 99.9 percent of that," James said. "Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I'm available both mentally, physically, and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature is all family talk."
Earlier this month, James's teammate, point guard Dennis Schröder, said "LeBron and I" were the only members of the team who haven't been vaccinated. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said last week the team had not yet reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold that would allow the team to relax some of the league-imposed COVID-19 restrictions. Vogel did not elaborate but said he was "hopeful" the team would hit the mark.
James played, albeit poorly, during the Lakers' first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, the first contest in a best-of-seven series. NBA legend Charles Barkley suggested the league's decision not to suspend James for violating health protocols was due to a lack of "balls."
"The NBA ain't got the balls to f—ing suspend LeBron James. Zero," Barkley said. "Hey, the NBA, they ain't got no chance of suspending LeBron James. If it was a nobody, they would put him in health and safety protocols. Ain't no f—ing way LeBron James is going to be sitting out with all the health and safety protocols."
James's dangerous refusal to embrace the consensus of scientific experts is at odds with his history of political activism. He has repeatedly vowed to use his "powerful" platform to speak out on "everything that's going on around this country and around the world." There's no telling how many lives could be saved if James used his platform to urge his millions of fans to get vaccinated.
James has also been conspicuously silent when it comes to the human-rights abuses in China, the NBA's most prominent business partner. In 2019, for example, he blasted former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey as "misinformed or not really educated" after Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The NBA's decision not to suspend James for violating health and safety protocols is in keeping with the league's general disregard for human life. As recently as June 2019, the NBA operated basketball academies in Xinjiang province, where the Chinese government has been accused of committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslim population. NBA employees reported that children at the league-run academies were routinely abused by Chinese officials.
In March, the NBA announced it was holding "ongoing business discussions" with China Central Television, the state-controlled propaganda network that routinely broadcasts the forced confessions of political dissidents. The authoritarian regime's propaganda organ has described the forced labor camps in Xinjiang as "vocational centers" and compared pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong to ISIS terrorists.