In September 2021, as a number of NBA players made headlines for making comments in apparent opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine in the lead-up to the start of the new season, a photograph supposedly showing Golden State Warriors basketball player Draymond Green in a shirt featuring a syringe and the words "Fuck it, Die then" was widely circulated on social media:
This is not a genuine image but a digitally altered one created from a photograph of Green in a shirt featuring a giant cupcake.
The original photograph was shared on Twitter by reporter Rachel Nichols in 2017. Here's a look at the fake image (left) and the genuine photograph (right):
The fake image of Green in a vaccine shirt was used by a number of online clothing retailers in order to sell merchandise. After this image went viral, online vendors such as tshirtatlowprice.com, vztee.com, and mixxtees.com started advertising this product alongside Green's name. Tshirtatlowprice.com even wrote an accompanying article describing the "origins" of the image and argued at one point that "whether it’s a fake photo or a real one, it doesn’t matter!"
We'd argue, of course, that it does matter. From a business perspective, Green and the artist behind the logo shouldn't have their image or their work used without their consent. From a social perspective, the fake image makes it appear as if Green, a high-profile NBA player with a large social influence, is endorsing a message he has not endorsed.
So Who Created the Syringe Logo?
This logo was created by Art Fuentes. The "Fuck it, Die then" logo was originally posted to the artist's Instagram page on Aug. 10. The following day, the design was added on Threadless where it can be purchased in various colors.
While this logo pretty clearly appears to be pro-vaccine, the logo has found some traction in anti-vax groups. Fuentes told us: "It’s totally a pro-vaccine message. I had drawn it with a different message in the word bubble months prior but then I got tired of all the whining and the Covid cases going up, that I got fed up and changed the words."
Who Created the Fake Green / Vaccine Image?
On Sept. 27, Twitter user @LeifLinderman posted what appears to be the first version of the fake Green / vaccine shirt image. Linderman appeared to confirm that he was the creator of the image when he responded to a message from Fuentes on Twitter. Fuentes was attempting to alert Green that his likeness was being used without his consent when Linderman chimed in saying that he never meant for the image to go so viral.