The NBA warned players unvaccinated for COVID-19 that they won’t be paid for games they miss due to local mandates regarding requirements for the vaccine.
“Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” Mike Bass, the NBA’s executive vice president of communications, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Players for the Golden State Warriors or Brooklyn Nets who are not vaccinated, for example, could lose a significant portion of their salary as they won’t be able to play home games. Due to New York City’s vaccine mandate, anyone entering the Barclays Center in Brooklyn has to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while San Francisco’s Chase Center has a mandate that only vaccinated people can enter.
Andrew Wiggins, of the Warriors, was reportedly denied religious exemption for the vaccine. It means he won’t be able to play Warriors home games until he meets the vaccination mandate, which was handed down last month by the City of San Francisco.
“I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe,” Wiggins, who makes about $32 million per year, told reporters this week. “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.”
Nets superstar Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, may also face a steep financial penalty. While Irving has not publicly confirmed his vaccination status, he did not appear with Nets teammates and staff during a media day event at the Barclays Center, which has a vaccine requirement, and he opted to instead answer questions via a Zoom call.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team,” Irving, who is the vice president of the National Basketball Players Association and makes nearly $35 million per year, told reporters Monday. He also requested privacy when pressed on his vaccination status.
“But as of right now, just please respect my privacy regarding anything about home games, what’s happening, vaccination, please,” he also said.
Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who suggested during remarks this week that he isn’t vaccinated, delivered a lengthy answer about why he’s against vaccine mandates. Isaac said he previously contracted COVID-19 and cited research saying that previously infected individuals have strong protection against the virus.
“I simply believe that it should be everyone’s individual right to make a decision on their vaccination status themselves without being pressured, without being bullied, without being forced into doing so,” Isaac told reporters. “I think any other way for it is unjust.”
Isaac added: “With me having COVID before and our understanding of anti-bodies and natural immunity still growing—and has changed pretty tremendously from the onset of the pandemic—taking the vaccine would decrease my chances of having severe symptoms if I was to catch COVID.”
“But given the fact that I’ve had COVID before, I have antibodies … [given] my age group, my current physical fitness level, [COVID] is not necessarily a fear of mine.”