The ongoing debate of vaccinations in the NBA


The coronavirus vaccine has been the topic of discussion as of late in professional sports leagues around the country, and is most prominent in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA has not required players to receive the vaccine, however, they have set up separate protocols regarding the vaccination status of players.  

Fully-vaccinated players will avoid daily testing and are able to participate in team activities such as team dinners and traveling with the team.  For the unvaccinated players, they will be required to test on practice and travel days. Those unvaccinated will be also required to maintain social distancing and quarantine if needed.

The NBA has had some pushback from several athletes in regards to getting vaccinated.  One of those players includes the Washington Wizards star player Bradley Beal. 

“I’m not vaccinated, no. You can’t necessarily force nobody or say it’s time for a vaccine. I think you let people come on their own about it and allow them to do their research when they feel comfortable,” Beal stated at media day. He continued, “I’d like to know and want an explanation why those with vaccines are still getting COVID-19.”  

Many NBA players have insisted on receiving the vaccine, so they are able to play every game this season.  Some states and cities have different restrictions for traveling without being vaccinated which may cause some players to miss several games and pay.  

Andrew Wiggins, who plays forward for the Golden State Warriors, was against receiving the vaccination, stating it was against his religious beliefs.  The NBA denied his exemption from getting a vaccine. A few short weeks later Wiggins decided to receive the shot, according to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.  Had Wiggins not received the vaccine he wouldn’t be allowed to play in home games at Oracle Arena due to restrictions of indoor events in the city of San Francisco, where the Warriors play their home games.  

The list of current unvaccinated players continues as some players believe they have “natural immunity.”

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Issac said, “I understand that the vaccine would help if you had COVID; you’ll be able to have less symptoms from contracting it. But with me having COVID in the past and having antibodies, with my current age group and physical fitness level, it’s not necessarily a fear of mine. Taking the vaccine, like I said, would decrease my chances of having a severe reaction, but it does open me up to the albeit rare chance of me having an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself.”

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. believes players should be able to decide themselves if they want the vaccine or not. “My stance on the mandate is it definitely shouldn’t be a mandate,” he said. “It should be everyone’s decision. I see it both ways. If you want to get it because you feel more protected and you feel safer, and it’s protecting people around you, get it. That’s good for you. But if you feel like, ‘Oh, for me, I don’t feel safe getting it,’ then don’t get it.”

Kyrie Irving, who plays point guard for the Brooklyn Nets and who is popular for his controversial statements, has continued to stand his ground against being vaccinated. Currently due to state restrictions Irving wouldn’t be allowed to practice or play home games.  As of now, the Nets are planning to move on this season without him until he changes his stance.    

The NBA currently has a vaccination status at nearly 90% and hopes to reach 100% by the start of the season The debate will likely continue after the season starts on Oct. 19.