Vaccinated NBA staffers concerned about health risks of being exposed to unvaccinated players as season approaches

As training camp nears Tuesday, nearly 90% of NBA players have been vaccinated. However, there is tension between the league's mandated vaccinators and the almost 40 unvaccinated, league sources told ESPN.
Some vaccinated employees express concern about the health risk of being exposed to non-vaccinated players. Staffers also complain that players don't have to be vaccinated as team staff or referees. Others are angry at the league for not mandating such a mandate.

Veteran assistant coach added, "Everyone who has been vaccinated should be pissed off at those who haven't," adding that "Not requiring NBA players be vaccinated" is "horse s-t."

Sources say the league has pushed for mandatory vaccinations of players. However, ESPN first reported that the NBPA refused to budge on a mandate for vaccines for players. Referring to it as a "nonstarter" in negotiations between NBPA and the players' union, it said it was a "nonstarter".

One Western Conference strength and condition coach expressed concern about a possible breakthrough case that could impact family members.

The coach stated that "it's a problem for me because my parents are very ill, and I'm in constant contact with these men and I would hate it to bring this home and have my parents die from it," ESPN reported.

The strength and conditioning coach for NBA leaders said, "They have to hold the players to similar standards as they hold themselves." This is a disease that doesn’t distinguish between a player or a staff member.

The concern expressed by a Western Conference head of athletic training about the rising number of breakthrough cases is echoed by a vaccinated Western Conference athlete.

The head athletic trainer stated, "Say that you have a small child suffering from asthma. You're doing all you can to help them. But, you bring something home to your family. Children of a certain age cannot be vaccinated yet." It's true. It is a real thing. Breakthrough infections are real.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published this month the results of a new study which examined vaccine data from 11 states and 2 major metropolitan areas.

Between April 4 and June 19, fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 5% (23,503) of all cases, 7% (2,025) of hospitalizations, and 8% overall (428).

These same percentages grew from June 20 through July 17, resulting in an increase of 18% of all patients (22,809), 14% hospitalizations (951), and 16% overall deaths (188).

The CDC reported an average of 10.1 breakthrough cases per 100,000 people who were fully vaccinated in the April 4 to June 19 data. This was across all ages. These cases increased to 19.4 in the latter period.

Heather Scobie, an epidemiologist with the CDC, said that there are "more breakthrough infections" than ever before. She was the lead author of one of the largest studies and spoke to The New York Times in September. "But, for the most part people aren't going to hospitals even if they have been vaccinated."

All team staff and NBA referees must be vaccinated. The spokesperson for the NBA Coaches Association did not respond to a request for comment. The National Basketball Referees Association did not respond to a message that sought comment. The NBA and NBPA did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.

League sources say safety protocols and health protocols for unvaccinated and vaccinated players are still being finalized. ESPN reported that unvaccinated athletes will be subject to more testing. They will be asked to sit in separate areas during team meetings, meals and locker rooms.

ESPN reported that one general manager said the tension between those who must be vaccinated (and those who don't) "just speaks to selfishness run amok." The NBA is made up of humans and we are witnessing the same thing in the general public.

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal stated Monday at his team's media conference that he hasn't been vaccinated because he doesn't want to.

Beal said, "I will definitely think about it. The league guidelines and all the protocols make it very difficult for us. They force us to do it the way they want.

"But at the conclusion of the day [I'll] discuss it with my family and we make the group decision that is best for us all, just like the rest.

The Western Conference's head athletic trainer said that people want to draw it for personal health reasons, but it is not. It's a public decision.

A league source relating to athletic training staffs lowered concerns by noting that 90% percent of athletes were fully vaccinated, a figure that was recently given to ESPN by a spokesperson for the league. This is significant progress and will likely increase.

A second source from the league, also a trainer staff member, said that many of their peers believe the league prioritizes the lives of the athletes over their own. Some members aren't keen to make anyone vaccinate if it makes them feel uneasy, but there should be a uniform standard across the board and not just the league.

"It's very worrying for everyone involved," stated a second general manger: "I'm exhausted trying to convince someone to save themselves or their loved ones."

Two NBA players have been reported as not being vaccinated in countries that require them to be. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors' wing, has not been vaccinated despite meeting with a doctor recently to address his concerns. Wiggins' decision to not get vaccinated could mean that he is unable to play in home games this season, according to a San Francisco law.

The NBA denied Wiggins' request to have a religious exemption, it announced Friday. The league stated in a statement that Wiggins would not be allowed to play in Warriors home games unless he meets the city's vaccination requirements.

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets' guard, has not been vaccinated and may miss home games due to New York's August similar law. Irving was unable to attend the media day for the team on Monday. However, he was available via Zoom.

Irving stated, "I know I'll always be there no matter what" and that he would be there for his teammates and my growing tribe off-court.

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic's power forward, expressed his hesitancy about getting vaccines in a Rolling Stone article. He tweeted Sunday: "I believe it's your God-given right to decide whether taking the vaccine is right or not!" "Permanent!"

Unvaccinated players make it difficult for the health performance staff, a third general manager stated. "It can be disastrous to not have everyone vaccinated."