Sources close to the National Basketball Association's league office have informed ESPN that the National Basketball Players Association has voted against instituting a league-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As the two parties negotiate protocols for the upcoming season, the NBPA reportedly considers any agreement that includes a league-wide vaccine mandate as a "non-starter." Despite the NBPA's wishes, new laws implemented in New York and San Francisco will require all members of the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors to be vaccinated by the start of the season. Furthermore, a league spokesperson recently informed ESPN that nearly 85% of players are vaccinated against the virus.
Aside from the player's negotiations with the league, NBA referees and a large portion of NBA staffers are required to be vaccinated.
"This agreement was a win-win. It will support the NBA's objective of creating a safer on-court environment and continuity of play while protecting the health and well-being of the referees," the National Basketball Referees Association stated after reaching a vaccine mandate agreement with the league.
Beyond the scope of the NBA, a number of sports leagues have grappled with instituting COVID-19 protocols after vaccines were made available to the public. Thus, the NFL has reported that 93% of its players were vaccinated and NBC Sports has reported nearly 100% of all WNBA players were vaccinated. Still, star athletes like DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals and Lamar Jackson have expressed varying levels of apprehension when asked about the COVID-19 vaccine. During a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, famed sportscaster Stephen A. Smith called out athletes who expressed frustration when pushed to get the vaccine.
"Listen, I have my own reservations about the vaccine myself. I'm a Black man. We know history, in terms of what this nation has done as it pertains to medicine and things of that nature. The Tuskegee Experiment and all of this. We know all of that," he told Angela Yee.
"Here's the flip side. You're an athlete. You've been putting stuff in your body. Are you trying to tell me that whenever the doctor or team physician prescribes something to you, you look at every ingredient and Google it to make sure [that it's ok]? Stop it. You know good and d--- well that's not the case. We go to the doctor. We ain't feeling well. The doctor tells us to take something. We look at the prescription. Then, we go, we get it and we take it. That's what we do. All of a sudden now...now you want to be like, 'I want to check.' Stop, that's where we look hypocritical."