Wiggins says he felt “only option” was to get vaccinated to play in NBA

Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers
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The Warriors Andrew Wiggins has been vaccinated and can play in Warriors home games this season, including the team’s exhibition opener Monday night.

But he’s not happy about it.

Wiggins spoke about getting the vaccine after Golden State’s 121-107 preseason win against Portland. Here are some highlights, via Kendra Andrews and Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

It must be noted that the COVID-19 vaccines have gone through extensive testing, and now have been in use in the general public for approaching a year, and serious side effects remain incredibly rare. It is scientifically clear the vaccine remains the best way to both slow transmission of the disease and avoid serious health complications if you do have a breakthrough case of the virus.

Wiggins was not forced to get the vaccine; he did have other options — they were just very expensive and unpleasant. By design. The NBA cannot mandate players get the vaccine but it can put in requirements that change the calculus for most players. The NBA has laid out ground rules for this season for unvaccinated players that involve not leaving the hotel on the road, not going out on the town or to dinner when at home, being spaced away from teammates in the locker room and during team travel, and a lot of testing. It’s a lot of extra hoops to jump through, most of which vaccinated players do not have to deal with.

In Wiggins’ case, there was also the local San Francisco mandate that anyone attending indoor gatherings in public places in the city — gyms, restaurants, and the Chase Center where the Warriors play — must be vaccinated to enter the building. That meant Wiggins would miss Warriors home games and the paychecks that come with them — a little more than $328,000 a game for Wiggins. Wiggins may not have been forced to get the vaccine, but that is a lot of money to leave on the table.

About 95% of NBA players are vaccinated now, a percentage that has been steadily climbing since training camps opened. Still, there are some high-profile holdouts, including the Wizards Bradley Beal and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who faces the same paycheck loss as Wiggins would have (but larger). Those players are drawing headlines now.

Wiggins is now out of that spotlight, even if he felt forced into the decision.