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LeBron James has confirmed he received the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, during media day for the 2021 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers star, 36, spoke with reporters about his decision to get vaccinated amid recent discussions in the league regarding players being hesitant or resistant to the vaccine.
"When it comes down for me, I can speak about myself. I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family," said James, who is kicking off his 19th year in the NBA and officially returning to his No. 6 jersey number, which he wore in Space Jam 2 and during his tenure with the Miami Heat.
"I know I was very skeptical about it all, but after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt it was best for not only me, but for my family, for my friends. That's why I decided to do it," the father of three continued. "Anything that I talk about, I don't talk about other people and what they should do. I speak for me and for my family, thats what it's about."
Currently, there is no mandate requiring NBA players to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19. The National Basketball Players Association, the league's players union, previously pushed back against the requirement for all players to get vaccinated.
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When asked if he feels he needs to be an advocate for his colleagues to be vaccinated, James doubled down on his desire to only speak on behalf of himself and his family.
"We're talking about individuals' bodies. We're not talking about something that's political, or racism, or police brutality or things of that nature. We're talking about people's bodies and well beings. So I don't feel, personally, I should get involved in what people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods," the athlete said. "It would be me talking about if somebody should take this job or not. Listen, you have to do what's best for you and your family."
James noted, "So I did for me and my family, I know some of my friends and what they did for their families. But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and things they want to do, that's not my job."
Also, the four-time NBA champion told reporters that "there was never a team discussion [about getting the vaccine]." Instead, the team's goal is to win another championship for what would be the franchise's 18th.
"At the end of the day, you're always trying to figure out the ways to always be available and protect one another, and put yourself at the best possible chance so you're available to your teammates, available to what you need to do on the floor. The ultimate goal is to obviously win a championship," James said. "Obviously health is the number one thing and also holding each other accountable on the floor. We're excited to know that we've given ourselves another opportunity to be available to each other and that's what it came down to."
On Tuesday, Anthony Davis spoke about his decision to get vaccinated. "I personally did it for my family. I think everybody on this team is vaccinated if I'm not mistaken," he said.
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play in the upcoming season, however, the NBA states that the athletes will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days and at least once on game day along with mandatory mask-wearing. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.
Local health regulations in specific locations, notably New York and San Francisco areas, require athletes to be vaccinated to play in home games.
As the training camp begins and the preseason will soon start, more and more players are being asked about their vaccination status. Several stars have expressed their personal stances against the vaccine, including Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving who is James' former teammate from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, current and retired NBA stars have voiced their support for COVID vaccines and have urged players and organizations to reach a 100 percent vaccination goal.
"The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team. 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," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone.
"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 Lakers great, 74, added.
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