The new NBA season starts on 19 October but a recent report suggested 10 per cent of the league’s players have yet to be vaccinated. So, can we tell which NBA players are not vaccinated against covid-19? Let’s take a look at what people are saying…
NBA faces covid challenges ahead of new season
The new NBA season is little more than two weeks away.
However, the league is encountering a variety of problems in trying to get every player vaccinated against covid-19.
The latest report suggests 90 per cent of the league is vaccinated.
But that leaves 10 per cent of players who seem reluctant to get the shot.
The league hasn’t made vaccines mandatory for players as it is subject to local laws.
For instance, in places such as New York City and San Francisco, unvaccinated people are prohibited from attending large, indoor gatherings.
This could mean some unvaccinated players are prevented from playing in home games this season.
Here’s what we know about some of those reluctant to get the shot, although we must stress their official vaccination status remains unconfirmed.
Andrew Wiggins’ religious exemption request denied
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins said at the recent media day his decision not to get the vaccine was a “private” matter.
The NBA recently rejected his request for a religious exemption from the covid-19 vaccine, meaning he could miss the Warriors’ home games “until he fulfils the city’s [San Francisco’s] vaccination requirements”.
In March, Wiggins said: “To each his own, really. 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.”
He added: “I don’t really see myself getting it any time soon, unless I’m forced to somehow. Other than that, I’m good.”
On media day, he added: “I’m confident in my beliefs and what I think is right, what I think is wrong. I’m just going to keep doing what I believe. Whether it’s one thing or another, just going to keep doing it.”
Kyrie Irving remains at centre of vaccine controversy
Importantly, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status is unconfirmed.
However, the Brooklyn Nets star has been reluctant to disclose his vaccination status since the jabs were first rolled out.
Irving recently spoke to reporters via Zoom after initially missing his team’s media day. He refused to get drawn into whether he has had the shot or whether he intends to get one.
“I would like to keep all that private,” Irving told reporters after being questioned on his availability for home game this season. “Please just respect my privacy. All the questions leading into what’s happening, just please. Everything will be released at a due date once we get this cleared up.”
Rolling Stone Magazine accused Kyrie of “following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist”. In the same article Irving’s aunt, Tyki Irving, was quoted as saying Irving’s stance was “not religious-based, it’s moral-based”.
Bradley Beal confirms he is still unvaccinated
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is one of the NBA players who is not vaccinated.
Beal missed being on Team USA’s gold medal-winning squad in the Tokyo Olympics because of covid-19 protocols.
On Monday ,he told reporters: “I don’t feel pressure [to get vaccinated] .
“I don’t think you can pressure anybody into making a decision about their body or what they put into their body. We can have this discussion about a lot of different topics besides vaccines too.
“You can’t necessarily force anybody or kind of say it’s time for a vaccine. I think you kind of let people come into their own about it. If they do their research when they feel comfortable, they do it.
“I definitely think about it, for sure,” he added. “With the guidelines the league makes and everything, the protocols they’re doing, it kind of makes it difficult on us to where they kind of force us in a way to want to get it. At the end of the day, I talk it over with my family and we make a decision what’s best for us.”
Beal also confirmed he has had covid.
However, unlike Irving and Wiggins, Beal doesn’t face the prospect of missing Wizards home games as restrictions in Washington are different to those in New York and San Francisco.
Jonathan Isaac recently addressed his stance on the vaccination
At the Orlando Magic media day recently, Jonathan Isaac answered questions regarding his decision not to get the vaccine.
“I am not anti-vax, I’m not anti-medicine, I am not anti-science,” Isaac told reporters Monday.
“I didn’t come to my current stance by studying black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences (as the story states), [and] I have nothing but the utmost respect for every healthcare worker and person in Orlando and all across the world that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe.
“It is my belief the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice. Completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time.”
You can read Isaac’s quotes from the media day in full here.
Isaac’s isn’t required to get vaccinated to play at Amway Center this season.
Various question marks around the league
Elsewhere around the league, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone admitted not every player on the roster was vaccinated.
“Would I love to be able to sit here and say we’re 100 per cent vaccinated? I would be thrilled about that,” Michael Malone said.
“The fact is we’re not and that’s all I’ll say on that matter regarding who is and who is not. It’s a delicate balance, it’s not my place to tell someone that they have to be vaccinated. It’s an individual choice.”
“All we can do is try to help educate the players that have chosen to be unvaccinated to this point,” he added.
“Maybe at some point they realise what’s at stake and make that decision to get vaccinated. Until then, we’ll keep on trying.”
Kent Bazemore, who signed this offseason with the Los Angeles Lakers, has also expressed vaccine hesitancy.
While with the Warriors last year, Bazemore was asked if he’d be taking the vaccine.
He replied: “No sir.”
However, it’s unclear whether Bazemore has changed his stance or got the shot in the months since.
Kareem hits out at NBA players who are not vaccinated
Those who are unvaccinated face scrutiny over their decisions, including from NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He recently said: “They are failing to live up to the responsibilities that come with celebrity. Athletes are under no obligation to be spokespersons for the government, but this is a matter of public health.
“By not encouraging their people to get the vaccine, they’re contributing to these deaths. I’m also concerned about how this perpetuates the stereotype of dumb jocks who are unable to look at verified scientific evidence and reach a rational conclusion.”
With the new season only weeks away, this issue seems unlikely to be fully resolved any time soon.