There are less than three weeks until the 2021-22 NBA Season begins. At least 15 teams have told their fans that they must vax in order to be able to watch the action live. Here are the places where fans can show proof of Covid vaccination or a negative test to gain entry.
After the NBA match against the Phoenix Suns, LeBron James walks past fans to leave the court. This was on November 12, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images). Getty Images
The Key Facts
The NBA will have more teams putting vaccine mandates into place than the NFL for their season. The only four NFL teams that had vaccine mandates were the Seattle Seahawks (New Orleans Saints), Las Vegas Raiders (Buffalo Bills) and New Orleans Saints (Seahawks). Both leagues allow teams to create their own safety and health guidelines for fans.
After the union representing them deemed the idea "non-starter", the NBA has mandated that all NBA coaches and staff must be vaccinated against Covid-19. However, players will not have to comply with such a mandate. ESPN reports that 95% of players have been vaccinated. However, this number doesn't seem to include some of the league’s most prominent players. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards' guard, stated this week that he still isn't getting vaccinated and is considering whether or not. Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, a guard known for his bizarre conspiracy theories, stated that he would not disclose his vaccination status. Rolling Stone reported that Irving liked posts on an Instagram account which claimed Covid vaccines were part of a "plan by Satan" to link Black people with a master computer. Andrew Wiggins, a Golden State Warriors player, was also not vaccinated last week. The NBA denied his request for a religious exemption from the league's vaccine policy.
What to Watch
On Wednesday, the NBA announced a new policy that will prevent unvaccinated players from missing games because of vaccine mandates. This policy only applies to players who are home in cities that do not allow negative testing except for New York and San Francisco. It also impacts the Warriors, Knicks, and Nets. This means that Wiggins will lose approximately $15.8 million in salary if he doesn't get vaccinated. Irving could lose more if he isn't vaccinated over $17.5 million.
According to Forbes, unvaccinated NBA players will lose their salary for games they miss due to local mandates (Forbes).
The NBA's Anti-Vaxxers Want to Push the League and Its Working (Rolling Stone).
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