Vaccine regulations & its impact on the NBA

Kamryn Jackson, Contributor

Impacts of COVID-19 disrupted the 2019-20 NBA season and caused disarray during the 2020-21 season.

As of right now, NBA players are not required to get the vaccine. There are no reports that a player-vaccine mandate is in the works. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that about 95% of NBA players have been vaccinated. However, there are still players who are not entirely sold on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is hopeful that the 2021-22 season can operate regularly amid a global pandemic. 

“Maybe for the first time in the past year, I’m fairly optimistic that as we see fans returning to our arenas, as we see public health officials across the country begin to open up sporting events, theaters, restaurants, other forms of entertainment, I feel pretty good that we’re going to continue apace,” Silver said.

Nets All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is the most notable player that remains unvaccinated as of right now.

Due to local guidelines in New York, if Irving remains unvaccinated, he could potentially be inactive in all home games for the Nets, missing half the season.

Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated could also do damage to his pockets. “Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. 

According to ESPN, Irving risks losing up to $380,000 for every home game that he misses this upcoming season due to protocol violations. 

Irving has been unforthcoming with sharing his thoughts on the vaccine. 

“I would love to just keep that private and handle that the right way with my team and go forward with a plan,” Irving said.

All-Star guard Bradley Beal is also among the minority of players who are not vaccinated. 

“I would ask the question to those who are getting vaccinated ‘Why are you still getting Covid?'” Beal said. “You can still get Covid and still pass it along if vaccinated.”

Fortunately for the Washington Wizards, local guidelines in Washington D.C. would not prevent Beal from playing home games. 

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Issac joins Irving and Beal in players who are currently unvaccinated. Issac claimed to have “natural immunity” considering previously contracted COVID-19.

“Taking the vaccine, like I said, would decrease my chances of having a severe reaction, but it does open me up to the albeit rare chance of me having an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself,” Issac said. 

Although most of the drama in the league is currently surrounding players who have not been vaccinated, most of the players have decided to go through with receiving the vaccine. 

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been critical of those refusing the vaccine. Towns, unfortunately, lost his mother to COVID, along with six other family members. 

Towns received his first dose back in April and strongly encouraged players around the league to do the same. 

4-time NBA champion Lebron James reveals doubts about the vaccine but ultimately decided to get it. 

“I know that I was skeptical about it all, but after doing my research, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but my family and my friends. That’s why I did it,” James said.

Students here at A&T have shared their thoughts on NBA players getting vaccinated. Most were on the same page agreeing that the players should get the vaccine. However, a few believed it should not be mandatory.

“Players not getting the vaccine doesn’t just affect themselves; it affects the whole league. There should 100% be a vaccine mandate for players,” sophomore bioengineering student Jordan Edmond said. 

“The vaccine has been proven to be effective; make it mandatory,” sophomore digital marketing student Xavier Ortiz said.

“It shouldn’t be mandatory, especially if it goes against a player’s religious beliefs,” junior Moriah Terry said.

 Unvaccinated players will have to be subject to strict rules and regulations, similar to last season.

Unvaccinated players undergo daily testing before entering facilities and are prohibited from indoor dining in the same room as other players and close personnel. 

Additionally,  unvaccinated players are required to wear face coverings while inside team facilities and will not be permitted to visit restaurants, bars, lounges, and any large indoor gatherings.

With the regular season set to tipoff on Oct. 19, 2021, only time will tell with the future of unvaccinated NBA players.