Opinion: Refusing the vaccine may prove costly for NBA players, teams


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With 95 percent of NBA players vaccinated, some stars who are against the Covid-19 vaccine continue to cause controversy.

Sam Tobiczyk, Multimedia Editor

With 95 percent of NBA players vaccinated, some stars who are against the Covid-19 vaccine continue to cause controversy.

Players such as seven-time All-Star Kyrie Irving or three-time All-Star Bradley Beal have emerged as the face of the NBA’s unvaccinated side, raising questions about player compensation and availability for their teams’ games.

The cities of San Francisco and New York have vaccine mandates that cover sports arenas, meaning that home-team players who remain unvaccinated cannot enter any team facility in either of these cities. Irving plays in New York.

Currently, the mandates in those two cities do not cover players from visiting teams, though a rise in cases could lead to revisions in the rules.

Players without the vaccine, though, will be subject to league-wide mandates concerning their activity off the court. 

These unvaccinated players will have separate lockers, have to maintain six feet of distance, and always wear a mask. They also will have to stay at their home at all times when in their home city, and stay at the team hotel when away for road games.

The NBA’s policy on players missing games due to refusing the vaccine is to not compensate them. This policy means that players like Irving who are against vaccinations could see at least a 50 percent pay cut for the year.

Losing out of half of their salary could cause some staunch anti-vax players to compromise their morals and ultimately take the shot. 

Another factor to consider with players missing games is how teams’ records will be affected. 

For example, Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, is an integral part of the championship contending team. With him potentially missing their home games — half of the season — their record and playoff seeding could be compromised, possibly stopping a run to the NBA finals.

With the NBA preseason having just started, many are wondering whether or not these dissenting players will take one for the team and get vaccinated.

Major players like Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James and Karl-Anthony Towns have spoken out in favor of getting the vaccine.

Towns, center of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has personally been hit hard by the global pandemic, losing seven family members, including his mother. He has become the face of the advocacy for fellow players to get vaccinated.

He has urged his teammates and opponents to get the Covid vaccine, being helped by other players such as Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks and retired legend Kareem-Abdul Jabbar.

This urgency to get vaccinated comes at an apt time, considering the encroaching NBA season and the fact that important NBA players have tested positive for the virus. This includes Beal and Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker.

The NBA regular season starts on Oct. 19.