Wizards guard Bradley Beal has been the biggest NBA star to play while openly unvaccinated this season.*
*Nets guard Kyrie Irving is in line to surpass him, once he clears the protocols.
But if Beal remains unvaccinated, he’ll soon run into a roadblock.
Washington D.C. is implementing a coronavirus-vaccine mandate that applies to the Wizards’ arena. The order from Mayor Muriel Bowser requires one dose by Jan. 15 and full vaccination by Feb. 15.
The mandate applies to “guests, visitors, and customers” – which doesn’t sound like Wizards players (though maybe opposing players). However, the mandate also refers to “employees who endanger themselves or others by being in violation of this Order or acting in violation of it.”
Whatever confusion exists from the law, the Wizards sound like they’ve found a clear interpretation.
Monumental Sports and Entertainment statement, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:
“Between the Mayor’s mandate and our own staff policy, everyone entering Capital One Arena will need to be vaccinated by January 15. We believe we will be able to implement the policy with no disruption in the fan experience or with our team on the floor.”
“Everyone” entering the arena is unambiguous, it would apply to players.
However, teams sometimes talk tougher than they act. The Kings said they were requiring all employees to be vaccinated. Of course, that didn’t apply to Sacramento players, whose union fought off an NBA-wide vaccine mandate.
The league has followed local laws without public objection, though.
New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors players must be vaccinated to play home games. However, some cities with vaccine mandates – like Boston – have exemptions for NBA players. The mayor’s office didn’t respond to a request for clarification about Wizards players and opponents.
Beal stands to lose $368,168 per game missed due to the mandate. He has been sitting on a contract-extension offer worth $181,301,299 over four years. Like Brooklyn with Irving, the Wizards must think twice about committing so much money to someone ineligible to play home games.
However, perhaps Beal is already vaccinated or will get vaccinated in time to comply with Washington’s mandate. He already seems to recognize that vaccination reduces the likelihood of hospitalization and death – important considerations. Needing to be vaccinated to do his job and protect his salary would be yet more reason to get inoculated.