LeBron James came awfully close to missing playoff games last week when he broke NBA COVID protocol by attending a launch event for his tequila brand the night before his Lakers were slated to take on the Warriors in the play-in tournament. Reports leaked that he violated rules by attending but would face no suspension. Charles Barkley said it simply: the NBA didn't "have the balls" to suspend their best and most important player over broken protocol.
LeBron didn't have much to say for himself when asked about it. He also drew a lot of attention for his answer to a direct question by Lakers reporter Kyle Goon asking if he had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine-- or rather, his lack of answer. The Lakers superstar merely chuckled a bit and said "it's not a big deal." That's it.
Stephen A. Smith saw this and decided it to lay into LeBron for it on First Take today. The ESPN analyst said he should be "ashamed of himself" for not stepping up and taking a leadership role in this matter as he has in so many other instances, especially those that disproportionally affect the Black community.
It's a complicated issue Smith has addressed here. He's right that LeBron can't really be choosy about what issues he wants to talk about without facing criticism. At the same time, the man is a basketball player and lambasting him for not using his platform to support getting the COVID vaccine doesn't seem all that fair considering there are thousands of highly-paid individuals in the medical field whose time and energy are solely devoted to doing just that.
There are no right answers when it comes to this sort of thing. Only strong opinions. Smith, per usual, did not hesitate to give his.