The National Basketball Association will not pay players who miss matches because they have refused to comply with local vaccine orders, which is increasing tensions with a small but sharp minority of players not having to take the Covid-19 swing.
The new policy from the U.S. professional basketball league will particularly affect players on teams in major U.S. cities — including New York and San Francisco — that now require proof of vaccination for large-scale indoor activities.
The move underscores the challenge facing the NBA, which previously led the world in meeting a public health pandemic with all teams playing in a ‘bubble’ in Florida last season. It is now trying to undermine resistance among some of its influential players, including Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving.
More than 90 percent of NBA players have been fully vaccinated, the executive director of his players’ association said earlier this week, compared to about 56 percent of the U.S. population.
LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers star widely regarded as the face of the league, told reporters this week that he was vaccinated after an initial ‘skepticism’, although he considered the choice personal and not something he do not feel comfortable advising other players or the public.
Most American professional leagues cannot enforce vaccine mandates on its players due to resistance from strong unions. Some prominent stars, including Irving and Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, have publicly opposed vaccination or questions about their status.
Local laws in New York and San Francisco require that all participants in indoor entertainment events be fully vaccinated, policies that affect players from three NBA teams: the Nets, Warriors and the New York Knicks. The Knicks general manager said Friday that all members of the organization received their shots.
On Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said encouraged Irving, a seven-time pick for the NBA star team, to take the plunge. ‘I’m a fan of Kyrie. “I would just appeal to him – get vaccinated,” he told CNN. Irving declined to disclose his vaccination status during a Nets media appearance earlier this week.
“Right now, you just have to respect my privacy regarding anything – home games, what happens with vaccination,” he said.
A request from Wiggins for a religious exemption from the San Francisco Vaccine Ordinance was denied by the NBA, the league said Friday.
US Senator Ted Cruz tweeted Wednesday that he supports Irving, Wiggins and other vaccine-resistant players, with the hashtag #YourBodyYourChoice.
Cruz, a Republican, added support for LeBron James’ reluctance to campaign for vaccines: “With his box office power, he could have been even braver — he could have solved the problem” by saying. . .[he]will not play in an arena that bans another NBA player because they make a personal health care choice. “
Of the major U.S. sports leagues, the NBA is the most vulnerable to the growing number of vaccine mandates because it plays all games indoors.
During the summer, the National Football League, which plays many matches in outdoor stadiums, distribute a memorandum to his teams declaring that any club that experiences an outbreak among unvaccinated players forfeits the match and incurs a loss.