Abdul-Jabbar says Stockton vaccine comments make athletes look like 'dumb jocks'

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NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a CNN interview defended the use of COVID-19 vaccines and said fellow Hall-of-Famer John Stockton's comments about 150 athletes dying from them make other athletes look like "dumb jocks."

"I think statements like that make the public look upon athletes basically as dumb jocks, for trying to explain away something that is obviously a pandemic," said Abdul-Jabber, who described vaccines and testing as the best way to end the pandemic.

"I don't understand anyone saying anything else. It doesn't make sense what he's saying," Abdul-Jabbar told CNN host John Berman. "This is a preventative measure that has been useful in many different circumstances."

Abdul-Jabbar, 74, also said he remembers children being worried about the "needle lady" when he was in kindergarten and students received the polio vaccine.

"We have to use common sense and approach this in a way that gets the results we want to get," he said. "I think John's reaction to the vaccine is extreme and not based on reality or facts. If John could just check the facts out he would understand that this vaccine is saving lives and preventing people from having serious reactions to the virus. It won't eliminate the virus overnight, but it will stop people from dying and will stop people from becoming seriously ill."

Stockton earned headlines and had his season tickets revoked by Gonzaga University for refusing to abide by mask mandates at college basketball games.

He has also made false statements about the coronavirus vaccine, saying he believed 150 athletes had died because of it.

"I think it's highly recorded now, there's 150 I believe now, it's over 100 professional athletes dead - professional athletes - the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court," Stockton said in an interview with the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Washington state.

Data show taking the COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces the chances of being hospitalized or dying from the coronavirus, and that the unvaccinated are much more likely to die or become seriously ill.

Despite those facts, a minority of Americans has refused to get vaccinated, something public health experts have partially blamed on misinformation spewed online, including by public figures such as Stockton.

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