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LeBron James has been hammered by Stephen A. Smith for seemingly evading COVID-19 vaccine questions from a reporter.
The ESPN talking head says LeBron should be "ashamed of himself" after be bobbed and weaved his way past pressing questions related to his stance on the coronavirus jab.
The exchange Stephen A. is referring to happened between the four-time NBA champion and Southern California News Group journalist Kyle Goon.
Here's how it went down:
KYLE GOON: "Hey LeBron, I know you've talked about how your availability for this team in this postseason is a huge factor for the team's success. I was wondering if that value affected the way that you thought about the COVID-19 vaccine and being available, not being in protocols?"
LEBRON JAMES: "Nah. Nah. Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority, or 99.9 per cent of that. It's about the health and safety of my family. That's what it came down to. Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I'm available both mentally, physically, and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature is all family talk."
KYLE GOON: "Do you mind me asking if you're confirming that you did get the vaccine?"
LEBRON JAMES: "Ahhhh, it's not a big deal."
This rather awkward back and forth didn't sit well with Stephen A, who absolutely went to town on LeBron for refusing to address the issue.
"He should be ashamed of himself. LeBron James should be ashamed of himself," Smith said on his popular ESPN show First Take.
"It was weak, his response to it, it was leaderless. It was inexcusable for him not to provide a better explanation.
"Everybody has the right to their own privacy. You don't want to let people know whether you took the vaccine or not, that is your business. But there is a whole bunch of things that LeBron James has elected to speak up about, that he felt was a detriment to our community, because he wanted to bring attention and a voice to matters. He felt compelled to speak up.
"But on the matter of the vaccine, you've got nothing to say all of these months. Nah. It doesn't work that way. You either want to be out front and centre, bringing a voice to issues, or you don't."
LeBron actions off the court- instead of on it - have seen him enter the spotlight in recent weeks.
His decision to rub shoulders with other big-name celebrities at a promotional event last Thursday landed him in hot water with authorities - well, sort of.
Many expected the Los Angeles Lakers megastar to be slapped with a punishment for breaching strict health and safety regulations, but the NBA are yet to discipline their poster boy.
This also angered Stephen A, who didn't shy away from preaching how he really felt.
"Here you are, LeBron James. You know what the safety protocols are for the NBA. You know how it looks," he added.
"But you do it anyway. Why'd you do it? Because you're LeBron James.
"You know, because you're LeBron James, that you can go out there and do stuff that other cats can't do, and there was no way in hell that the NBA was going to sit you down.
"You have no business doing that. If you're going to put yourself in that position, what you've done essentially is put the league in a position to look the way they're looking.
"At the end of that day, you didn't give a damn, you were going to do what you want to do. And to me, come playoff time, with the position the league is in because of the pandemic, I just think that was a very leaderless thing for him to do."
LeBron's Lakers are currently behind in their seven-game playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
Featured Image Credit: ESPN / First Take
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