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LeBron James: Decision whether to get vaccinated a ‘private thing’

2021 NBA All-Star Game

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MARCH 07: Lebron James #23 of Team LeBron is introduced prior to the 70th NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena on March 07, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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“I think ultimately these are personal decisions that players need to make, just like everyone in our communities need to make,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday when asked about players getting the coronavirus vaccine. “We see our role, together with the Players Association, providing them with the best possible information...

“We have no plans to mandate that players get vaccinated.”

LeBron James agrees with Silver — whether or not to get the vaccine is a private matter. And he’s not going to use his platform to encourage people to get it.

“That’s a conversation that my family and I will have. Pretty much keep that to a private thing,” LeBron said Sunday is a zoom interview with reporters when asked about the vaccine. “Obviously, I saw Adam had his comments about the vaccination. But things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody. I’ll keep it that way.”

Even as vaccinations roll out across the nation and infection rates drop — there is light at the end of the tunnel — the shadow of the coronavirus was felt at the All-Star Game. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the 76ers had to miss the game due to contact tracing (they both had met with the same barber, who tested positive).

It is moments like that which led Silver to say that “my hunch is that most players ultimately will choose to get vaccinated.” If Embiid and Simmons had been vaccinated — neither has yet had the opportunity, they are not in the higher risk groups, not educators or frontline workers, the people who should be prioritized — they would not have been sidelined Sunday due to contact tracing.

Silver has encouraged players to speak out on social issues, but that means there will not be uniformity of ideas and beliefs. Silver and the NBA have focused on education about what the three federally approved vaccines are and do. Even with that there is plenty of misinformation out there among players, a group that is 75% black and has understandable reasons for not just trusting what the government says about a vaccine or other medical advice.

(That, for the record, is not true.)

Ultimately, polls show most people will get the vaccine, often for the selfish reasons that drove some to foolishly push back against mask mandates and shutdown orders — the selfish desire to make sure their life is uninterrupted. Whatever the new normal looks like on the other side of this, it will be preferred to what we all have endured for the past year and people want to get there.

NBA players will be the same. Most, but not all, likely will get the vaccine, and as a nation we will get to herd immunity. Silver said the goal is to have the next NBA season look close to normal — an October start to the season and fans filling buildings, and it likely comes together that way.

But there is a lot of education needed — and a lot of vaccines still to be delivered — to get there.