Due to pushback from the NBPA (player’s union), the NBA hasn’t enforced a COVID-19 injection mandate for all players.
However, players for teams located in cities with mandates face vaccine segregation.
For unvaccinated players on those rosters, they’re banned from their home arena and team activities.
That impacts four NBA franchises.
The New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and New Orleans Pelicans.
According to reports, around 10% of NBA players remain unvaccinated.
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) September 23, 2021
And it appears that contingency of unvaccinated players aren’t backing down from their personal medical choice.
As the NBA and NBPA negotiate protocols for the upcoming season, the NBPA reportedly considers any agreement that includes a league-wide vaccine mandate as a "non-starter." https://t.co/ecpka4rdhe
— Projections, An IRI Company (@Projections) September 23, 2021
The NBA can't unilaterally impose vaccine and testing rules on players since players are in a union. The NBA and NBPA must negotiate those rules. Kyrie Irving being VP of the NBPA's executive committee seems like a key fact among the issues discussed here: https://t.co/1T5h0TXycx
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) September 26, 2021
Jonathan Isaac is ‘proudly unvaccinated,’ per @sullduggery
“When NBA players started lining up for shots in March, Isaac started studying Black history and watching Donald Trump’s press conferences. He learned about antibody resistance and came to distrust Dr. Anthony Fauci.” pic.twitter.com/8QQKHyuTvU
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) September 26, 2021
Jonathan Isaac, I believe, is the first NBA player to be *this* loudly anti-Covid vaxx. Says he considered unvaxxed players to be vilified and bullied. Came to his anti-Covid vax stance from watching Trump press conferences and now distrusts Fauci. pic.twitter.com/320j1bPvdK
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) September 26, 2021
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar relayed his thoughts about mandating the experimental injections on NBA players:
Unvaccinated NBA players have reportedly fought the league regarding COVID-19 protocols as the regular season nears.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2021
— NewsOne (@newsone) September 26, 2021
BREAKING NEWS: Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demands that the NBA “remove all unvaccinated players and coaches from their teams,” saying “there’s no room for anyone” who “puts lives at risk” because they “refuse to do the necessary research.” RT IF YOU’RE WITH KAREEM!
— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) September 26, 2021
It’s ironic that unvaccinated players get scrutinized for their refusal to do “the necessary research.”
In fact, it appears they’re the few players to actually do the real research.
And not believe whatever the ‘experts’ say on television.
Rolling Stone reported on the rift caused by the ‘arrogant’ unvaccinated players:
This month, league officials caught a break: Two of America’s most progressive cities, New York and San Francisco, would require pro athletes to show proof of one Covid-19 vaccination dose to play indoors, except with an approved medical or religious exemption. Which meant that one of the NBA’s biggest stars — one known for being receptive to conspiratorial beliefs — would be under heavy pressure to get a shot. And if Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving could be convinced to take the vaccine, then maybe, just maybe, the whole league could create a new kind of bubble together.
When asked directly about Irving’s vaccination status — or his plans to change it — multiple people familiar with his thinking declined to answer directly. But one confidant and family member floated to Rolling Stone the idea of anti-vaxx players skipping home games to dodge the New York City ordinance… or at least threatening to protest them, until the NBA changes its ways.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” says Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs the seven-time All-Star’s family foundation and is one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
A spokeswoman for Irving declined to respond to a list of questions regarding his vaccination and playing status, and Irving did not immediately respond to a message from Rolling Stone. But as teams return to pre-season training camps next week, fifty to sixty NBA players have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, league sources tell RS. Most are considered merely reluctant skeptics. Some of the holdouts, however, amount to their own shadow roster of anti-vaxxers mounting a behind-the-scenes resistance to Covid protocols — and the truth.
Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.” This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.
While hit pieces label Kyrie Irving as a conspiracy theorist, the NBA denied Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins a religious exemption.
The NBA has officially denied Andrew Wiggins’ request to get a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine. pic.twitter.com/ko4VNkH9CL
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) September 24, 2021
Faced with missing home games due to COVID-19 injection mandates, unvaccinated players continue standing their ground.
Kyrie Irving could reportedly miss home games because of vaccine status. https://t.co/Wo41tdYNd2
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 26, 2021
Kyrie's aunt told me that unvaccinated players could skip home games to dodge's NYC rule, protesting til NBA looks the other way.
League says it'll comply with law.
— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) September 26, 2021
Kyrie Irving is reportedly leading a coalition of NBA players refusing the covid vaccine. Since New York and LA have mandated the vaccine for athletes, this would mean some players would be ineligible to play in those cities. https://t.co/gTe92MCls7
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 26, 2021
The NBA has been zeroing in on the remaining 10 percent of active players that are unvaccinated, and are running out of patience with convincing the skeptics.
Despite Commissioner Adam Silver’s declaration that the Association will not implement a vaccine mandate heading into the 2021-22 season, higher-ups are beginning to worry that the remaining number of players are basing their decision on “conspiracy theories,” per a new Rolling Stones report.
One of the Association’s prominent figures for personal choice includes Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving — a player labeled by a new Rolling Stones report as a conspiracy theorist for choosing to question the efficacy of the vaccine and following anti-vaxxers’ social media accounts.
The NBA worries that Kyrie, joining other players such as Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac, will opt out of games where the vaccine is required — including New Orleans, Los Angeles and New York City.