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Dutiful Mike Wilbon Is Shilling For New York’s Foolish Vaccine Mandate

Kevin Durant called out the mayor of New York City Eric Adams for the vaccine mandate that keeps his unvaccinated teammate Kyrie Irving from playing during home games.

“It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it at all,” Durant said. “They lifted all of that in the arena, right? I don’t get it.

“It just feels like, at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or point to flex their authority,” he added.

Durant’s comments enraged ESPN’s Michael Wilbon. In fact, Durant’s presser almost brought Wilbon to tears.

Here’s Wilbon from Sunday’s NBA Countdown:

Kevin Durant is too aware and too plugged-in to say something that impertinent. What’s the point of that? Want some attention? You wanna call out somebody, call out your teammate. Tell him to get a shot. He’s got plenty of them ’cause he couldn’t have gone to grade school in metropolitan New York without the vaccine.

All these guys wanna be so irresponsible and not accountable enough to look at this dude and tell him, ‘You wanna play with us, put a shot in your arm.’ The vaccine is not about attention. People died, hundreds of thousands of them, from this virus. And you think the mayor of New York needs to attend to a basketball team’s needs, your needs, before the needs of the largest city in America? Are you kidding me? There are some knuckleheads who would say something like this, and I’d probably let it go. Kevin Durant is too smart and too plugged in. Everybody wants to tell you how woke they are, and then I have to hear something like that? That’s offensive. Stop.

At this point, what does “people dying” have to do with Durant’s comments or Irving’s situation?

First, COVID mainly impacts the obese and those over 65 or with a preexisting condition, and Omicron is not a deadly variant of it. As a 29-year-old professional athlete, Irving was hardly ever at risk of serious symptoms, even if he contracted the virus.

Second, why do New York laws allow Irving to sit courtside at the Barclays Center but not play on it? That was Durant’s point, after all.

Unfortunately, Wilbon’s nodding co-commentators, Stephen A. Smith and Jalen Rose, never pressed him for answers to these questions, so Wilbon never had to explain or defend his performative outrage.

If ESPN had some diversity of thought on the set — you know how much they love diversity over there — then someone might have pushed back against Wilbon’s babble. Of course, ESPN doesn’t care about that type of diversity anymore. And that’s part of the issue with ESPN commentators delving into political issues.

Like Wilbon, most ESPN analysts are uninformed on topics besides basketball and football. They all get their news from social media and can’t separate reasonable arguments from the insane ones, even when presented with them face to face. That’s why Smith and Rose just nod along. The groupthink at ESPN does such a disservice to sports fans and casual viewers.

Ultimately, the vaccine mandate imposed on NYC workers was never about health or safety. It was always about control, and now it just looks foolish and outdated. Yet dutiful members of the media like Wilbon are still shaming those who speak out against the mandate.

It sounds like Michael Wilbon is, to use his word, the knucklehead here. A useful one too.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

6 Comments

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  1. Wilbon, who rails against moronic rules like players getting fined for not wearing game-approved shoes, now tells Irving’s teammates to pressure him into getting a vaccine because NYC has illogical, indefensible COVID rules. Welcome to ESPN.

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