New York City and San Francisco have enacted vaccine mandates for indoor gatherings over a specific size. Meaning, nobody can enter a gym, a large restaurant, or attend major indoor events — such as the Met Gala in New York — without proof of vaccination.
That mandate includes the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and the new Chase Center in San Francisco — homes of the Nets and Warriors, respectively — and it applies to players. As a result, an unvaccinated Nets or Warriors player could not participate in practices or games in the facilities.
If the season started today, that would apply to a couple of Brooklyn players, Nets GM Sean Marks said in his preseason press conference (before the team heads to San Diego next week for training camp).
“Regarding if they could play today, I can’t comment on who could play and so forth. There would obviously be a couple people missing from that picture,” Marks said. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate.”
Implying the unvaccinated players are getting the jab. Marks said he and other team management have “had very candid conversations” with players, which likely explained the loss of game checks that would come when they could not enter the building due to not being vaccinated. For a number of players on the Nets, that could be hundreds of thousands of dollars per game.
“Those are individual decisions, whether it’s a staff member or a player has to come to terms with. It’s obviously out of our control…” Marks said. “We don’t see these — whether it’s a city-wide mandate or it’s a league mandate to follow — being any sort of hindrance to us putting out a team.”
According to players ‘ union executive director Michele Roberts, close to 90% of NBA players are vaccinated. The league cannot mandate player vaccines — that would have to be negotiated with the union and would be a non-starter — but, like many businesses and local governments have done, the NBA can change the calculus for players. Under new league protocols, unvaccinated players have to be separated from teammates both in the locker room and during travel, they can’t attend team events, have to wear a mask at all times when not on the court, and there are other restrictions.
But nothing would hit home like losing a game check. When an unvaccinated player’s team is taking on the Nets or Warriors, those players would have to set out and miss their pay from that game.
It was six months ago that Andrew Wiggins announced his intention to avoid all COVID-19 vaccines unless he was “forced to” get the jab. If he has not changed his stance, and there is no public knowledge of such, he would pay a price…
If Wiggins can’t show proof of vaccination by Oct. 13, he won’t be allowed in the building and will miss a game check with a pre-tax value of roughly $360,000.
We will see what Wiggins does, but in general players are not going to leave that money on the table.
There will ultimately be a couple of unvaccinated players, but it would be a surprise to see any of them on the Nets or Warriors (or on a team in any other city that passes a mandate, several have considered them). In the end, this is a business, and one that pays players well. And they know it.