Earlier this month, we reported that due to newly imposed coronavirus guidelines in New York City and San Francisco, this upcoming NBA season could lead to players for the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks being forced to sit out home games should they decline to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:
Unvaccinated players for three marquee NBA teams would have to sit out home games in the upcoming season under local coronavirus restrictions.
Players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors will have to get vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless they have a valid religious or medical exemption, the league told front offices in a Wednesday memo obtained by CNBC. The requirement will not apply to visiting players.
Both New York City and San Francisco have set rules requiring people over the age of 12 to prove they have received a Covid-19 vaccine in order to enter arenas, gyms, restaurants and other indoor venues. The rules cover team arenas and practice facilities in those cities, the NBA said.
As a result of these mandates, it’s safe to assume that teams in these markets are stressing the fuck out at the prospect of their championship hopes being completely derailed by stiff COVID-19 health and safety protocols. One such player who could face significant penalties is Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle reports has remained defiant in his anti-vax stance:
The Warriors recently connected Wiggins with an Oakland doctor who understands issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy, sources said. The doctor explained the suffering and deaths she has witnessed in patients who contracted the coronavirus, sources said, but Wiggins remains unmoved in his decision against vaccination.
In March, the 26-year-old made his feelings about the vaccine clear and apparently nothing has changed in the time since.
“To each his own, really,” he said at the time. “Whoever wants to get it, can get it. Whoever doesn’t want to get it, don’t get it. Right now, I’m not getting it, but it’s no knock on anyone else that’s getting it. I make my own decisions. But right now, I decided not to get it.”
Another player who could be giving his front office and teammates headaches is Kyrie Irving, who reportedly has refused the vaccine so far as well.
From Fox Sports:
One player who could be affected is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. According to multiple league sources, Irving has yet to receive a vaccine shot. Both the Nets and a spokeswoman for Irving declined to comment on the record about Irving’s vaccination status, but Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked during a news conference on Tuesday whether New York City’s mandate could sideline any of his team’s players.
“Regarding if they could play today, I can’t comment on who could play and so forth. There would obviously be a couple people missing from that picture,” Marks said. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth.”
For those out of the loop, every NBA team plays an 82 game schedule that’s split down the middle between home and road games. So it’s safe to assume that having star players on the Nets, Warriors, or Knicks missing half the season would not only have a catastrophic impact on each team but the league and its broadcasting partners as a whole.
This will be a very interesting story to keep an eye on with training camp set to begin next week.