By Jerry Wein
NBA players are opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine, and according to in-depth piece by Rolling Stone‘s Matt Sullivan, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving’s distrusts of the vaccine.
On Aug. 7, the National Basketball Player’s Association had a virtual meeting with the league where COVID-19 protocols were discussed. The NBA wanted to agree to terms that 100% of NBA players would be required to get vaccinated, but the issue was a “Non-starter. Non-starter,” players and an executive told Rolling Stone. Unvaccinated players shut down that proposition and agreed there should be testing but not during off days. They did agree to mandatory masks on the court and on the road, however.
The NBA agreed to these terms and also made socially-distance travel “suggested,” per Rolling Stone. NBA regulators will also be looking out for forged vaccine cards, but only if an issue was brought to their attention. Among the unvaccinated coalition is Irving, who is the vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union.
Recently, Irving started to like Instagram posts and follow an account that claims “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan,” according to Rolling Stone. Misinformation and conspiracy theories have been spreading to NBA locker rooms across the country, per the report.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs his family foundation and is one of his advisors, told Rolling Stone. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
Irving’s vaccination status is unclear, but NBA legend Kareem Abdul–Jabbar felt strongly on the matter.
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”