NBA players who refuse Covid-19 vaccine could lose millions in salary

  • Unvaccinated players will not be paid for missed games
  • NBA says more than 90% of players have now had shot

NBA players who choose not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 could lose millions of dollars, the league confirmed on Wednesday.

“Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” Mike Bass, the NBA’s executive vice president of communications, said in a statement on Wednesday morning.

The NBA does not require its players to be vaccinated, although they are under stricter protocols than those who have had the Covid-19 shot. However, local laws in cities such as New York and San Francisco prohibit the unvaccinated from certain public places, including indoor sports areas. That means unvaccinated players for teams such as the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors would not be able to participate in home games.

Around 90% of NBA players are vaccinated, a much higher rate than the overall US population. However, there are questions over certain high-profile players. The Nets’ all-star point guard Kyrie Irving was not at the team’s media day earlier this week and when asked about his vaccine status replied: “I’d love to just keep that private and handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan”. The Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins said he also wanted to keep his vaccination status private.

Irving is due to make just under $35m in salary this season, meaning his losses would run into the millions if he sat out every Nets home game. The Nets’ cross-city rivals, the New York Knicks, says all their players have been vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Irving’s former teammate, LeBron James, said he had been “very skeptical” about the vaccine initially before deciding it was “the right thing to do”.

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