A bombshell Rolling Stonepiece by reporter Matt Sullivan suggests that major issues could be coming for the NBA on the COVID-19 vaccine front. City mandates passed by New York City and San Francisco spell trouble for notable unvaccinated players like Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins has already had his religious exemption request denied. As things currently stand, if he continues to refuse to get vaccinated, he will not be allowed to participate in indoor events—i.e. NBA games—in the city of San Francisco, where his Golden State Warriors are located.
Irving runs the risk of the same issue in New York. He makes up one of the most dynamic "Big Threes" in the league, alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets, but Irving's unwillingness to get vaccinated could put the Nets' serious title chances at risk. According to Sullivan, who published a book on the KD/Kyrie-era Nets this year, the star point guard is way down the rabbit hole on conspiracy theories about the vaccine as well.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not mincing any words when it comes to the players who continue to hold out. He told Sullivan that he believes that those players should be released.
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team," the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar said. "There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research."
He went on to rip those players for their "arrogance," saying that if there was a medical emergency with one of their kids, they wouldn't second guess the doctors.
"What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
The NBA's collective bargaining agreement won't allow for a full-on vaccine mandate. According to reports this week, somewhere between 85-and-90-percent of players are vaccinated, but there are evidently some significant holdouts. Compared to the 99-percent vaccination rate in the WNBA, and even other major leagues like the NFL that have had more success, it has to be pretty disheartening for the league office, especially if some of the league's best teams could be kneecapped by wild conspiracy theories.
NBA training camps are set to open next week.