Magic Johnson hopes NBA players follow his lead and get vaccinated


When he reconnected with his former colleague, Magic johnson didn’t just discuss the state of the Los Angeles Lakers with the GM Rob pelinka. The two also spoke about Johnson recently taking the COVID-19 vaccine and how that could do more than protect himself from the virus.

“Rob told me a lot of guys that when I got mine they felt a little better,” Johnson told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday. “This is what happens. Guys want to see other guys [get it], and see if it works. They are following this, hopefully.

There is still work to be done.

Controlling Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss and Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell recently posted on their respective social media accounts that they had received the COVID-19 vaccine. But it’s unclear how many other players took it, including James lebron and Anthony davis. Nevertheless, the Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on Wednesday that the organization had not yet been 85% vaccinated.

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Once NBA teams reach this threshold, the league’s health and safety protocols allow them to visit their training facility without a mask and have their meals on the team’s plane. Individually vaccinated players have additional freedoms, including eating al fresco, inviting friends and family home and on the road without testing and without the need to quarantine after potential exposure.

So when Johnson spoke with Buss, Pelinka, and Linda Rambis (Lakers executive director of community relations and special projects) last week, he heard encouraging news about how comfortable players are with the COVID-19 vaccine.

“They had discussions with the players. I think they had decided – most of them – to take it and get the shot, ”Johnson said. “They just need to know when. At that time, they hadn’t done that. So I don’t know when they’re going to do it. But I think once a leader like a Lakers team and a leader like LeBron steps in, the guys will feel more comfortable. But it’s all about getting the information. “

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association did not require players to take the COVID-19 vaccine. They are also aware that some of the predominantly black gamers have some suspicion stemming from the fallout from the unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted from 1932 to 1972.

But the NBA has held vaccine education sessions for current and former league players, staff and families, including Dr. Leroy Sims, senior vice president of medical affairs for the NBA. The NBA also released four PSAs on the COVID-19 vaccine featuring five former black NBA players (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill russell, Julius Erving, Dave Bing, Wayne Embry), a white head coach (San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich) and a white NBA executive (Jerry West).

Johnson is not yet among the NBA luminaries who have recorded a PSA, but he has also vocally supported the COVID-19 vaccine on his social media.

“Huge impact. It’s not just an impact on today’s players, but also on the black community,” Johnson said. “These are men who have been leaders not only on the basketball court. , but also in the community. When they step in and take it, there is a level of comfort for others. That’s what they bring. We turn to people who are like us and whom we trust. “

In what he saw as “probably the most important question”, Johnson also looked into whether he was going to become compromised. since he had HIV for almost 30 years. Johnson therefore contacted Dr David Ho, who was Johnson’s physician, one of the most prominent physicians in the AIDS research community and among the medical experts consulted by the NBA when formulating its health and safety protocols.

“Dr. Ho told me no problem. He encouraged me to take it, ”Johnson said. “When you have two of the leading infectious doctors who know all of Dr Fauci and Dr Ho’s illnesses, you step in and you do it.

So Johnson received his first injection of the Pfizer vaccine on March 24 at the University of Southern California mass vaccination site. Johnson received his second injection of the Pfizer vaccine on April 13. How has his body reacted since?

“No reaction,” Johnson said. “It has been great. Just a sore arm. I was so happy.

After all, Johnson said his wife (Cookie), three children (Andre, EJ, Elisa), parents, in-laws and siblings also received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson has since attended the Dodgers’ season opener and plans to attend future games for the Dodgers, Lakers, LAFC and Sparks.

“I’m going. Are you kidding me?” Johnson said he was happy to attend Lakers games. “You get AD and LeBron back, and the playoffs are here. I want to regain a taste for what I was doing and the normal lifestyle I had. We are not going to go back. But at least I can go.

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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