KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR ON AARON RODGERS
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 74 years old.
Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. in 1947, he has been thoughtful, introspective and cerebral from the very beginning.
He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a six-time NBA champion and the league’s only 6-time MVP.
He won three consecutive national championships at UCLA, was a three-time NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player selection, and was named National College Player of the Year three times (1967-’69).
Kareem — universally recognized by his first name — is one of a handful of influential and respected black men in America with a national platform as a regular contributing columnist for newspapers and magazines around the world.
He shares his keen insights in publications such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, commenting on some of the most socially relevant and politically charged topics facing our nation today.
Not immodestly, he simply states that, “I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop. My greatest asset is my mind.”
He has become a New York Times best-selling author, Time Magazine columnist, actor, filmmaker, martial artist, ambassador of education, U.S. global cultural ambassador and in 2016, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Unlimited reams of paper may not be available to detail his prodigious achievements, both on and off the basketball court.
The man has proven over these many decades that his voice is one that should be heard.
So I was listening intently to an exchange between MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Kareem, when he ripped Aaron Rodgers apart.
He calmly — in his own inimitable fashion — tore Rodgers limb from limb.
And then some.
His scathing renunciation of Rodgers was particularly poignant — and on point — to say the least.
He was addressing Rodgers’ “arrogance,” “ignorance,” “lies,” and “hubris,” while examining Rodgers’ version of his vaccination status.
And blasting him, from here to high heaven, as detailed in a column he posted on his personal Substack page.
The 1,200 word essay laments the damage Rodgers’ actions and words will have on the image of professional athletes, and makes a mockery of the Packer QB’s “illogical” defense.
Claiming, when pressed, that he had been “immunized,” Rodgers was never vaccinated.
Shame on the media members who never asked him directly whether or not he had been vaccinated.
But Kareem wasn’t having any of that, one way or the other.
“Instead of consulting immunologists, he consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus,” he wrote.
“If he ever requires open-heart surgery will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart?”
Honesty is always the best policy.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw — recently chronicled on these pages — is another front-and-center critic of Rodgers’ approach.
On this week’s FOX NFL Sunday, he remarked that Rodgers could probably benefit from “learning how to be honest.”
Kareem continued to emote, vociferously.
Rodgers “directly and deliberately” lied, Kareem contended.
“Rodgers’ ignorance regarding the science of immunology brings back to life the old stereotype of the big dumb jock.
His utter lack of even the most basic knowledge and logic is shocking…
What’s especially bothersome is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t just lie and threaten the health of those around him, he also damaged professional sports.
Many athletes make a lot of money on product endorsements, which depends on the public’s favorable perception of athletes.
In 2020, global sports sponsorship was worth about $57 billion.
Yet every time a pro athlete like Kyrie Irving (anti-vax), Henry Ruggs (speeding at 156 mph, crashing, and killing someone), Evander Kane (forging vaccination card), or Aaron Rodgers does or says something stupid, the public trust in athletes lowers and sponsors might consider avoiding players in favor of actors, pop stars, or social media influencers.
Steph Curry and LeBron James don’t have to worry, but some up-and-comers might not get the same opportunities.”
It’s interesting to note that the white-hot backlash hasn’t spared Rodgers either.
He has since been dropped by Preva Health, which said it is still “deeply” committed to getting people vaccinated.
And State Farm issued a statement about him Monday (November 8) “respecting his right” to have his own point of view.
But the day before, Rodgers appeared in just 1.5% of the nearly 400 ads which the insurance company ran — down roughly 25%.
As for Kareem, he and his keyboard were just warming up.
“Rodgers complained that the ‘cancel culture’ was coming for him, but his own words cancel him as a liar and a bad thinker,” he wrote.
“If he had a principled objection to the vaccine, he could have chosen not to play, like [Nets star] Kyrie Irving, who at least is honest.
What really sacked his whining stance was his refusal to wear a mask during interviews to protect others from sickness and death.
That was merely his hubris and arrogance against what he called the ‘woke mob.’
In this case, ‘woke’ means compassion and responsibility toward others.
He might also remember that the only reason he is able to play in front of crowds again is because all those suckers got vaccinated.”
Kareem wrapped up his post with a comparison between Rodgers and former quarterback Colin Kaepernick who “was blacklisted by the NFL for passively expressing his frustration with systemic racism.”
“Multi-millionaire Rodgers will continue to play, despite lying to the fans and his teammates and putting innocent lives in danger.
Time will tell whether Rodgers will be judged by the content of his character or the strength of his throwing arm.”
The next time Aaron Rodgers thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, he’d be best advised to make sure Kareem isn’t standing next to him.
He’d be hard to miss.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in November 2021.]