ESPN’s famously high-volume mouthpiece Stephen A. Smith rebuked NBA superstar LeBron James for waiting months before telling the public that he is fully vaccinated.
The issue of vaccination has become an increasingly contentious issue within the league as several high-profile stars, most prominently Brooklyn Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State’s Andrew Wiggings, have refused to get inoculated.
During the Los Angeles Lakers’ first full team press conference and photo day in advance of training camp, King James told the battery of reporters that he and his family were inoculated months ago.
Smith, the host of the top-rated morning sports show “First Take,” took umbrage that LBJ kept that information close to the vest for so long.
“I don’t think he needs to be more vocal now, but what he did yesterday, he should have done a long time ago,” Smith said on Sept. 29 on “First Take.”
“He is an individual that has been an incredible role model on so many levels and needs to be applauded for all of that,” Smith said. “He took the liberty to take the bull by the horn and be front and center on a plethora of issues that affect our community.
“I was hesitant to take the vaccine myself. A guy by the name of Dennis Pullin brings me to an ICU where I saw nothing in there but Black people because so many Black people were hesitant to take the vaccine … when you saw the detrimental impact that it was having on our community, that’s when I felt compelled to step up and take the vaccine.”
Smith thinks that James could have joined the publicly pro-vaxx movement earlier, thereby saving many Black lives.
“People were dying in our community,” Smith said. “I feel like anybody who had a voice should have done their research sooner than later and made sure they made a decision and moved forward and at least be open about what you chose to do.”
Flip the page to view the video of Smith’s comments about James and the vaccine on “First Take.”