INDU SEKHAR PISUPATI, Staff Writer
It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and there is now a vaccine. One area that was hit hard from the COVID-19 pandemic was major league sports, specifically, the NBA. According to Forbes, the NBA lost almost $700 million due to the season being shut down, which caused them to make $7.92 billion in revenue.
With the COVID-19 vaccine now available to everyone, players had to get it to make sure that they were safe. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday, September 30, 2021, that 95% of the league is vaccinated. Now, an article from CBS Sports said that the vaccine will not be required for players as the 2021-22 season approaches. The only people who need the vaccine are the referees and team and arena personnel who interact with players.
“They don’t have to explain anything, but if they don’t get vaccinated, I don’t think they should be allowed to play.” - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
According to Fox Sports, any NBA players who are unvaccinated may be sidelined for some games. For example, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors was not vaccinated and there were reports saying he might not play in home games because San Francisco requires people to be vaccinated for any form of entertainment. But now, he is vaccinated, and according to an article by Yahoo Sports, Wiggins told The San Francisco Chronicle that he originally didn’t get vaccinated because he “noticed a lot of people were getting reactions or injuries from getting vaccinated.”
There are plenty of former and current players that already got the vaccine who are speaking out against not getting the vaccine. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighed in on the situation during an interview with CBC Sports. During the interview, Jabbar said, “They don’t have to explain anything, but if they don’t get vaccinated, I don’t think they should be allowed to play.” With the NBA not making the vaccine mandatory for players and only for team/arena personnel, this could put a lot of people at risk, outside of the NBA. For the players who don’t have the vaccine, they may have to face fines going forward.
Until now, there have been talks about only one player not getting the vaccine, and he is regarded as one of the most controversial players in the league, Brooklyn Nets superstar, Kyrie Irving. Irving put out a tweet on Twitter titled “mask off” on September 15. He also added in the tweet that this was not related to the COVID rules. This tweet started a lot of controversy around the superstar player. Along with that, there is also controversy surrounding him about not getting the vaccine. At the moment, Irving is still yet to get the vaccine. Reports have said that the Nets are not going to play Irving this season, due to him not getting vaccinated. This also started a lot of controversies, with the majority of the league’s players being vaccinated. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly wanted a vaccine mandate, saying that “I would have preferred that ultimately that the player’s association agreed to mandatory vaccines.” He also said that Kyrie's issue is between him and New York City, saying he doesn’t want to make it a legal issue, according to ESPN.
With the new NBA season starting soon, we still have yet to see if there will be a vaccine mandate. What will the NBA do to players who don’t have the vaccine? How much do the players have to pay in fines? How much longer till there is a vaccine mandate? There are still so many unanswered questions and we have yet to see what the NBA will do and what the new regulations will look like.