After a day of jousting between the league and players union Tuesday over the possibility of a vaccine mandate, the NBA and NBPA have finalized a set of new protocols for unvaccinated players, ones that will limit their access to teammates who’ve already received COVID-19 shots.
Then, on Wednesday, the league announced that if players fail to meet vaccine requirements laid down by local authorities, they won’t be paid.
Shams Charania had the details early Tuesday evening on the protocols...
NBA's 65-page health and safety protocols for ‘21-22 include restrictions on non-fully-vaccinated players, such as:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 28, 2021
No dining indoors in same room as other player, 6 feet of distance in team meeting, distant locker, remain at residence or hotel, prohibited from public venues.
Tim Bontemps also laid out what to expect once the season begins...
In reading through the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols, it is clear that unvaccinated players are going to be living under basically the exact same rules as last year, including daily testing. Vaccinated players, meanwhile, will have far more freedom to live their lives.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) September 28, 2021
Late Wednesday morning, the league announced that players from New York and San Francisco teams who decline to be vaccinated will not be paid if they miss home games under the two cities’ regulations. Under those regulations, all team home players must be vaccinated...
NBA spokesman Mike Bass says: “Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses.”— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 29, 2021
While the Knicks are fully vaccinated, Irving and the Warriors Andrew Wiggins are not. Irving would lose in excess of $400,000 a game under the league’s policy.
The obvious intention of the combined moves is to put pressure on the unvaccinated ... without having to resort to a mandate.
The details of the new health protocols for the unvaccinated, as Bontemps reported Tuesday night, are comprehensive and cover large parts of the unvaccinated players’ lives...
Teams have also been instructed to prevent having their seating arrangements for fully unvaccinated players from sitting together.
Unvaccinated players are required to remain at their residence during home games and at the team hotel for road contests. The only exceptions are for team and essential activities, such as buying groceries or taking their children to school. They are not allowed to go to any restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment venues or large indoor gatherings and can only have in-person interactions with non-family members with a “limited number of close personal guests” who have to be tested beforehand.
Bontemps also described the other side of the protocols: how vaccinated players will have a great deal more freedom this season than last...
Vaccinated players, on the other hand, will have far fewer restrictions. For example, all fully vaccinated players, as well as Tier 1 personnel — coaches and anyone else working regularly within 15 feet of players and referees, all of whom have already been mandated to get the vaccine — will not have to undergo daily testing.
Charania reported last week that 90 percent of the league’s approximately 600 players (including two-ways and Exhibit 10s) are fully vaccinated. Among those players who’ve been reported (or self-reported) as unvaccinated are Irving, Wiggins, Bradley Beal, Jonathan Isaac and Josh Richardson.
Neither Bontemps nor Charania provided details on how the league would enforce the rules.
Earlier in the day, amid the fallout from Monday’s Media Day vaccine controversy, the NBA said that it has discussed a league-wide vaccine mandate, similar to those many large and small companies have instituted, but couldn’t get NBPA to agree...
In response to inquiry to NBA concerning vaccination mandates for players, league spokesman Mike Bass tells ESPN: “A vaccine mandate for NBA players would need an agreement with the Players Association. The NBA has made these proposals but the players’ union has rejected…”— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2021
The NBPA responded with a statement...
“The real story for proponents of vaccination is how can we emulate the Players in the NBA.” (2/2)— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) September 28, 2021
There was no word Wednesday about Irving’s status. Irving practiced with the Nets at the team’s training camp in San Diego.
“That’s not really something I’m focusing on right now,” Steve Nash Brian Lewis when asked about his level of concern over Irving possibly missing home games. “I’m trying to have a great camp. Things could change day-to-day in so many ways, as we saw last year. Right now, we are just focused on camp.”
Meanwhile, back in New York, the mayor strongly encouraged Irving to “get the shot.”
“I’m a fan of Kyrie. I would just appeal to him – get vaccinated,” Mayor Bill deBlasio said. “Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back. Look, there are teams now that are 100% vaccinated. That’s a great example to everybody else.”
Also, a deBlasio spokesman told Dennis Young of the Daily News reports that under city rules, Irving can’t play at Madison Square Garden when the Nets take on the Knicks.
“Home teams have a vaccine requirement when playing in NYC,” Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, wrote Winfield Tuesday. “That applies to the Nets in Barclays, Knicks in MSG and everyone when they play each other.”
- NBA: No pay if unvaccinated players can’t play - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- In memo to teams, NBA crafts protocols requiring unvaccinated players to be under many of same restrictions as rest of league - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- High-Profile Vaccine Refusals Force Tough Questions for NBA Teams - Jake Fischer - Bleacher Report
- Kyrie Irving shows up to training camp with Nets status in flux - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving would lose over $400K per home game if he’s not vaccinated - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Mayor de Blasio’s plea to Nets star Kyrie Irving: ‘Get vaccinated’ - Jenna Lemoncelli & Sam Raskin - New York Post
- Nets’ Kyrie Irving could lose pay if he’s unvaccinated, NBA says - Greg Logan - Newsday
- NBA says players who miss games under vaccine mandates won’t be paid for them - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- NYC Mayor de Blasio to Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving: ‘Take your shot’ - Michael Gartland - New York Daily News
- Unvaccinated Nets players can’t play at Madison Square Garden either - Dennis Young - New York Daily News
- NBA releases protocols to teams for virus safety this season - Tim Reynolds - AP
- Unvaccinated NBA players won’t be paid for every game missed due to local COVID-19 mandates - Michael Kaskey-Blomain - CBS Sports
- Kyrie Irving and the Downside of Player Empowerment - Will Leitch - New York Magazine