Update: The NBA recently announced that players who do not comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for the games they miss.
With the start of another NBA season in the midst of a global pandemic, all eyes have shifted to the players. Teams held their media days this week, giving players the opportunity to answer the media’s questions.
The most popular question that players have been asked has been concerning their vaccination status. Currently there is no mandate from the league for players to be vaccinated.
League spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN: “A vaccine mandate for NBA players would need an agreement with the Players Association. The NBA has made these proposals but the players’ union has rejected any vaccination requirement.”
Most NBA players are vaccinated, but stragglers remain
Roughly 90% of NBA players are vaccinated as training camp approaches, according to league sources, but tensions are growing between staffers who are vaccinated and the players who refuse them.
In some instances, staffers said they’re upset that the players aren’t facing the same vaccine requirements as most team staff and referees. In other instances, staffers said they’re concerned about the health risks of being exposed to unvaccinated players.
Two of the league’s biggest stars, Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving, both said they were not vaccinated during their team’s media day.
Players who refuse vaccine won’t be eligible to play
Beal said that he was not vaccinated for “personal reasons.”
“I’ll definitely think about it, for sure. With the guidelines that the league makes and everything that the protocols are doing, they kind of make it difficult on us to where they kind of force us in a way to want to get it,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I’ll talk it over with my family and we’ll make a group decision that we feel is best for us, just like the rest of the world.”
Unlike Beal, Irving plays in Brooklyn which requires vaccines to play. There’s a strong possibility that he could miss about 41 home games if he refuses to get vaccinated. The same thing goes for Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins requested a religious exemption from the vaccine but was denied by the league. The league said in a statement: “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”
With the season beginning on October 19, it will be interesting to see if the players facing the possibility of not playing will get vaccinated or not after the NBA announced players won’t be compensated for the games they miss.