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These anti-vaccine theories are spreading in the NBA

Kyrie Irving and the anti-vaccine movement in the NBA, explained

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The Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, James Harden and forward Kevin Durant battled injuries throughout the 2020-21 season.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, middle, gathers with guard James Harden (13) and forward Kevin Durant (7) during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021.

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

Last week, the NBA announced that it had denied a request by Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins for a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine, a decision that meant Wiggins might not be eligible to play home games.

But this is not the only experience with the COVID-19 vaccine happening in the NBA right now. There’s been an anti-vaccine movement among several players, including some prominent names in the league.

And, according to Rolling Stone, there are some conspiracy theories spreading through NBA locker rooms related to the vaccine. Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving appears to be at the forefront of the misinformation spreading through the NBA.

Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that ‘secret societies’ are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for ‘a plan of Satan.’ This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.

But NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone that the NBA should be harsher about getting people in the league vaccinated.

The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team, Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone. There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?

The Rolling Stone report has some more details about what’s happening in the NBA, including Orlando Magic star Jonathan Isaac’s thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine and that he is “proudly unvaccinated.”

Read more on Rolling Stone.