The NBA is trying as hard as it can to have every player receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said on Wednesday.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass: "Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses."
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 29, 2021
The news comes one day after the conclusion of NBA Media Days, in which multiple players were either questioned on their vaccination status or admitted to not being vaccinated.
For two NBA players — Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins — the decision to abstain from the vaccine would be crushing to their wallets.
Both play in cities that will require proof of vaccination in order to play in home games. New York will require professional athletes to show proof of one dose of the vaccine in order to play indoors and San Francisco requires full vaccination.
According to ESPN, “The executive orders governing the vaccine only apply to the players who play in those markets; out-of-market players are exempted from them.”
Last week, Wiggins’ request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the league.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement. “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”
On Monday, Wiggins was asked about the possibility of forfeiting game checks — which is now a reality — as he stands to lose more than $350,000 per game.
“It’s my problem, not yours,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins told reporters his vaccination status is “none of your business” on Monday when asked why he won’t share whether he’s gotten the shot.
“It’s none of your business is what it comes down to,” Wiggins said. “I don’t ask you guys what you think is right or wrong. We’re different people … Who are you guys where I have to explain what I believe? Or what’s right or what’s wrong in my mind. We’re two totally different people. What you think is not what I think. What I think is not what you think.”
Irving was not at Brooklyn’s media day due to New York’s vaccine requirement; instead, he did his interview via video.
When asked about his status, Irving said he would keep it “private.”
“I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team and be there for my growing tribe off the court,” Irving said.
“I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this. I’m doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart.”
Whether he will actually be there “every day” is highly doubtful if he is in fact unvaccinated.
The other New York team — the Knicks — have announced that they are fully vaccinated.
“This was all internally driven,” general manager Scott Perry said. “Like I said, a lot of credit goes to our players, our medical staff. This is something that we’ve been on top of really the entire year, and again, just proud of our players for really stepping up and doing their part in this. We’re an organization that will obviously follow laws and mandates from the leagues and state government, but a lot of this was internally driven.”
Irving is set to make nearly $35 million for the 2021-2022 season, while Wiggins is set to make more than $31.5 million.
Both the Warriors and Nets will have 41 home games. If Irving and Wiggins are not vaccinated, they’ll lose out on half their salary. The two players have a few weeks to decide on the vaccination.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].