NBA and Vaccines: What’s Going On?


David Bien-Aime, Copy Editor

The NBA and its vaccination policies have been one of the most important topics in the league recently. The vaccination policies are up to state mandates and the NBA teams themselves. The NBA as a whole does not have a rule that requires all players to get vaccinated. According to ESPN, 95% of the players in the league are vaccinated. Many are wondering how this NBA season will be affected due to the vaccination status of certain teams- especially the Brooklyn Nets. 

The Nets have sparked the most attention in the NBA regarding their vaccination policy because of superstar Kyrie Irving. The team has confirmed that Kyrie will not be allowed inside Barclays Center during games or to even practice with the team until he gets vaccinated. 

This has stirred a lot of controversy, with many criticizing the 29-year-old point-guard, but also many backing him. NBA media personality Stephen A Smith has been one of the most vocal about his criticisms towards Kyrie Irving, calling him “selfish” and his decision “stupid.” Many people believe Kyrie is anti-vax, but recently he went live on his Instagram to clear the air after weeks of silence. “Everybody is entitled to do what they feel is right for themselves. Seeing the way this is dividing the world up…it’s sad to see…people are losing jobs to mandates,” said Kyrie. He made it clear that he is not anti-vax, and has no problem with those who choose to take the vaccine. He has a problem, though, with the way vaccination mandates have been costing workers their jobs. To him, he’s taking a stand by not taking the vaccine. Many are wondering how Kyrie’s absence will affect the Brooklyn Nets’ season as they are currently the favorites to win the title.

Kyrie isn’t the only superstar who’s yet to receive a vaccine. Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal is also part of the 5% of players who are hesitant about taking the jab. Unlike Kyrie, though, he is still allowed to play for and practice with the Wizards as Washington D.C. does not have a vaccination mandate. Still, players like Beal, who chose not to take the vaccine, have widely been criticized by the media and fans. 

The vaccination mandate not only affects players but fans as well. According to Forbes, half of the NBA requires fans to show proof of vaccination or a document showing a recent negative COVID test to attend a game. The Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder all require a negative test. In contrast, the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and Toronto Raptors require all fans to be vaccinated, with no exceptions for unvaccinated attendees. The NBA is doing its best to make sure this NBA season goes according to plan. As long as players and fans continue to follow mandates, we’ll be in for another memorable season.