NBA players won’t be mandated to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, league sources tell Baxter Holmes and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The news doesn’t come as a major surprise. While other NBA personnel – including referees – are required to be fully vaccinated for the start of the season, imposing such a mandate on players would’ve meant negotiating the issue with the NBPA. That aspect of negotiations between the league and the players’ union has been considered a “non-starter,” per Holmes and Wojnarowski.
Although there won’t be a mandate in place, a league spokesperson recently said that about 85% of the NBA’s players are fully vaccinated, according to ESPN’s duo, and the league will continue to implement strict testing protocols for unvaccinated players.
Besides potentially having to eat and travel in different sections than their vaccinated teammates, unvaccinated players will be required to register one negative COVID-19 test on each practice or travel day and two negatives tests on each game day, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Fully vaccinated players won’t undergo regular coronavirus testing, Charania notes.
While most NBA players will still be able to play in games without being fully vaccinated, that won’t be the case for those based in cities like New York and San Francisco, where there are new laws about vaccinations for indoor gatherings. We outlined earlier this month how Knicks, Nets, and Warriors players would be affected by those regulations, and ESPN’s report today reiterates that the NBA will abide by those local vaccination requirements unless a player has an approved medical or religious exemption.