Monday’s NBA media days were not filled with the usual fun and games that come with the media once again having access to the players.
The reason? The COVID vaccine.
Whether we like it or not, the question of “Are you vaccinated” is top of mind for many, and professional athletes are not immune to it.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving missed media day due to New York’s vaccination policy, Bradley Beal had a lengthy conversation about his decision to not take the shot, and Golden State Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins got testy with the media as he avoided discussing his beliefs on the issue.
It’s been reported that nearly 90% of NBA players are vaccinated, and the league has required that referees and any staff that member that works within 15 feet of players be fully vaccinated. The only reason the players are not required to be fully vaccinated is due to their strong union, the NBA Players Association, which drew a line in the sand for its members.
But not all staffers are pleased with players who have opted out of the shot.
“Everyone who is vaccinated should be pissed at those who aren’t,” a veteran assistant coach told ESPN, “Not requiring NBA players to be vaccinated is horse s—t.”
Multiple staff members told ESPN that they are concerned about obtaining a breakthrough case and passing the illness onto their family members.
“They need to hold the players to the same standards they hold us,” a strength and conditioning coach said. “This is a disease that doesn’t differentiate between a player and a staff member.”
“Say you have a small child with asthma, and you’re doing everything you can, but you bring something home to your family and children of a certain age aren’t able to be vaccinated yet,” a head athletic trainer told ESPN. “It’s real. It’s a real thing. Breakthrough infections are a real thing.”
If staffers are concerned, it would be a logical assumption to think that players are also worried about working next to someone who has chosen to remain unvaccinated.
But Andre Iguodala of the Warriors didn’t seem particularly concerned about playing next to Wiggins, who appears to be unvaccinated.
“I think we all have to do our homework a little bit better. That’s for all of us,” Iguodala said on Monday. “I’ve been upset reading about Andrew Wiggins because it’s painting the wrong picture. We’re in a day and age now where perception can become reality. And the perception that’s going on about him is hurting his value and ultimately can affect the wealth that he accumulates, which is totally unfair.”
“If you do your homework the way it should be done, you understand there’s some people who have an excuse and there’s people who have actual values. He’s a guy that has values, and he’s the type of guy I’ll stand by. He’s the kind of guy I’ll risk being around the situation. I’m vaccinated and I have an understanding about this, and he has a different understanding, but his understanding is something that I truly respect, and I have a value for how he sees life. He’s the type of guy that I support the whole way. Hopefully we can find a solution.
Last week, the NBA announced that Wiggins’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for [a] religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” 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.”
The NBA season tips off October 19th.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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