Despite reportedly having 95% of their players vaccinated, the NBA now has several stars seriously questioning the league's vaccine mandates — including LeBron James.
The cities of San Francisco and New York have a vaccine mandate for indoor public gatherings — which applies to NBA players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors. Andrew Wiggins of the Warriors requested a religious exemption, but was denied by the NBA. If he does not get the COVID-19 vaccine, then he will be barred from playing all home games, and he will not be paid for the games he misses.
The Warriors' first home game is on Oct. 21, and Wiggins has not yet revealed if he will get the coronavirus shot.
"It's not uncomfortable. I'm confident in my beliefs, what I think is right, and what I think is wrong," Wiggins said. "I'm just gonna keep doing what I believe, whether it's one thing or another, just gonna keep doing it.
"Back is definitely against the wall, but I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe," Wiggins added. "I'm going to keep fighting for what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other and vice versa."
Teammate Draymond Green was asked if he would attempt to convince Wiggins to get the COVID-19 vaccine so that he wouldn't miss any games. Green scoffed at the idea, and compared Wiggins' personal decision not to be vaccinated to a teammate missing games for the birth of a child.
We're dealing with something that, to me, feels like has turned into a political war. When you're talking about vaccinated and non-vaccinated, I think it's become very political. And for someone who's not extremely into politics, when you make something so political and not everyone is into politics, then you can also turn those people off, you know? I think there is something to be said for people's concern about something that's being pressed so hard. Like, why are you pressing this so hard? Like, so much, just pressing and pressing and pressing. I think you have to honor people's feelings and their own personal beliefs – and I think that's been lost when it comes to vaccinated and non-vaccinated. And it kinda sucks that that's been lost, because you're essentially not giving anyone… you say we live in the land of the free? Well you're not giving anyone freedom because you're making people do something, essentially. Without necessarily making them, you're making them do something. And that goes against everything that America stands for, or 'supposedly' stands for. And so I don't think… no, I know I'm not in any position to go tell him what he should or should not be doing. And as a leader of this team I'm not going to go to him say,' Hey man, we really need…' Nah, the hell, you do what you feel you want to do. I'm not going to go ask him did he get a polio vaccine. So why would I go ask him if he got a COVID vaccine?
Video of Green's response went viral online, racking up millions of views. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James – arguably the NBA's biggest star – shared the video and told Green, "Couldn't have said it any better." Both Green and James are vaccinated.
Several NBA players have voiced concerns about vaccine mandates.
Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal said this week, "I don't think you can pressure anybody into doing things, or putting things in their body."
Orlando Magic player and ordained minister Jonathan Isaac said, "I believe it is your God given right to decide if taking the vaccine is right for you!"
Brooklyn Nets All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has refused to comment on his vaccination status and was barred from media day this week. His aunt and head of his foundation hinted that Irving would miss games this season. Irving is the vice president of the NBA Players Association.
Meanwhile, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said unvaccinated NBA players are not good citizens and should be removed from their teams.
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