CJ McCollum believes NBA players were unfairly criticized for its very small number of vaccine holdouts.
“Yeah, it did,” said McCollum when asked if the attention on the issue annoyed him. “I feel like we were targeted. Obviously, people look up to us. We play a sport for a living. It’s entertainment. People looked at us as the bar. In reality, we are kind of the bar: We got 98 percent of our league volunteered to be vaccinated, whereas the public was 55 percent or 60 percent at that point. No one was talking about corporate America going through the same problem, no one was talking about how there were health care workers going through the same issues. It was us in the spotlight, and I thought it was unfair because we were doing such a great job of educating our players.”
McCollum believes some level of vaccine hesitancy was common across all types of communities.
“There was hesitancy, but I think there’s hesitancy from everyone. We wanted to know more, we wanted more data. Understanding historically Blacks and African Americans have been taken advantage of, especially in similar circumstances and situations. Historically, we’ve been used almost as guinea pigs at times for experimental medicine. There was caution, there was pause, but for good reason.
“I think as we’ve continued to educate ourselves and ask the right questions from experts, we’ve learned that there was a shift.”