Warriors’ Wiggins Reportedly Won’t Get Vaccinated—And So May Miss All Home NBA Games
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, the team’s second-leading scorer last season, has remained steadfast in his refusal to get vaccinated, according to multiple published reports, a decision that could have a significant impact on the Warriors team, as unvaccinated players could be forced to sit out home games due to local vaccine-related regulations.
Golden State plays its home games in San Francisco, one of two NBA markets where local jurisdiction prohibits players from entering their home arena unless they are fully vaccinated.
San Francisco announced last month that all “operators or hosts” (yes, that includes players) of large indoor events (any indoor gathering exceeding 5,000 people) are required to show proof of vaccination by October 13.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, which broke the news Wednesday night, it is believed Wiggins will seek a religious exemption, which the NBA is expected to grant, but San Francisco health officials have the power to override the exemption inside the city.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health told the Chronicle it would not comment on Wiggins’ situation unless he is granted a religious exemption from the league.
If Wiggins, who signed a five-year, $147.7 million contract in 2018, were barred from the arena, he would be forced to forfeit a game check worth approximately $360,000 for each contest he misses.
Forbes reached out to the Warriors, but the organization declined to comment.
“We are actively addressing the matter of requests for a religious exemption from vaccinations across many industries and will work with our business and entertainment community on next steps,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement to the Chronicle. “We will provide further clarification on this topic.”
Wiggins, 26, said earlier this year he would not get vaccinated against the virus unless he was forced to get a shot. “To each his own, really. Whoever wants to get it, can get it; whoever doesn’t want to get it, don’t get it,” Wiggins said in late March. “I don’t really see myself getting it anytime soon, unless I’m forced to somehow. Other than that, I’m good.” According to the Chronicle report, the Warriors asked Wiggins to speak with an Oakland-based doctor who “explained the suffering and deaths she has witnessed in patients who contracted the coronavirus,” but Wiggins “remains unmoved” in his anti-vax stance. The NBA and the player’s union have agreed a vaccine mandate would not be enforced this season. However, the league informed teams earlier this month that they will have to follow local regulations related to vaccines. The two cities that have laws in place requiring all employees to be vaccinated for large indoor events are San Francisco and New York City. Players on visiting teams, or independent performers, are not employed by the host. As a result, they are not required to be vaccinated as long as they provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of the game. Thus, Wiggins would be able to play in all Warriors road games even if he does not get his jab. Other than players, the NBA has mandated that all coaches, referees, medical staff and security staff be inoculated this season.
Sean Marks, the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, told reporters on Tuesday that “a couple” of his players would not be able to participate in the start of training camp later this week due to New York City’s Covid-19 vaccination restrictions. “I can’t comment on who could play and so forth. There would obviously be a couple of people missing from that picture. I won’t get into who it is,” Marks said. “But we feel confident that in the following several days before camp, everybody will be allowed to participate and participate fully.”
Karl-Anthony Towns, the star center for the Timberwolves, played alongside Wiggins in Minnesota for four years, from 2015 through 2019. Towns has lost seven family members to Covid-19, including his mother, and has been critical of individuals who refuse to get their jab. “Every day I see a new excuse why people ain’t getting the vaccine,” he tweeted last week. “Ya starting to get creative with these ‘reasons,’ though, and it’s actually really funny.” Towns later added, “It never matters to people until it happens to them. I hope no one has to deal with what I’ve had to and still continue to deal with.”
90%. That’s the percentage of NBA players who were vaccinated in July, according to National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts.