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UPDATED 9/27, 10:00 a.m. ET: Players who miss games because of their vaccine status won’t be paid for those games, Marc Stein reports.
Stein points out that players like Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, both of whom by all accounts have not received the vaccine, could lose $300,000 per game.
UPDATED 9/27, 10:00 a.m. ET: Kyrie Irving is expected to skip the Brooklyn Nets ‘ media day on Monday, due to New York’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst report.
Per Lowe, the Nets expect Irving to attend the team’s training camp in San Diego.
And while Irving and other marquee players are choosing to keep their vaccine status private, LeBron James took a different approach on Tuesday.
According to The Athletic’s Bill Oram, LeBron told reporters he was originally skeptical, but decided to get it “not only for my family and for my friends, that’s why I decided to do it.”
See original story below.
New York City requires anyone above the age of 12 show proof of receiving at least one dose of a COVID vaccine to participate in any indoor entertainment, NBA games included. While Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters last week that he doesn’t see the mandate “being any sort of hindrance to us putting out a team,” he did admit that there are still a “couple” of players who wouldn’t meet the requirement.
One of those undisclosed players could be Irving, as evidenced by an explosive Rolling Stone report by Matt Sullivan, who spoke with the Nets star’s aunt Tyki Irving, who suggested his refusal to receive the vaccine has nothing to do with religious reasons—like Andrew Wiggins tried to claim—but are instead “moral-based.”
“He is going to try to figure that out as it comes, because it’s not religious-based, it’s moral-based,” Tyki said. “You may have to sit on the sideline, you might not have to be in the arena during this. If it’s that freaking important to get a vaccine that, hell, it’s still not preventing the Covid” — which it is — “then I’d rather them working it out that way than to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t get the vaccine, then you can’t be a part of the franchise that you f*ckin’ helped build.’”
Tyki floated the idea that her nephew could protest games in an effort to change the NBA’s stance of abiding by San Francisco and New York’s respective mandates, however, the league doesn’t appear willing to budge.
The more concerning part of Irving’s stance against the vaccine lies in him recently following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims the existence of “secret societies” that are implanting vaccines that would connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.” This radical thinking has reportedly been circulating throughout the league recently.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” Tyki said. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
While the NBA says 90 percent of its players are vaccinated, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes the league needs to take a hard-line stance against those who refuse to get the shot. “The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” Abdul-Jabbar told RS, adding, “What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do.”
Rolling Stone also spoke with Jonathan Issac of the Orlando Magic, who has participated in an unlikely educational pairing of studying Black history and watching Donald Trump’s press conferences. Isaac, who underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL, argued that you can’t always “put your trust completely in people,” scientists included.
Ennis Kanter, who is Muslim, also chimed in.
“If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we’re in a time where the religion and science has to go together,” Kanter told RS. “I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys, I’m like, ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”