While the NBA and the rest of the world is still trying its best to return to some sort of normalcy – after more than one and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic – summer discussions amongst adults were largely dominated by if, or when a certain individual was vaccinated against the virus. The numbing truth of the United States still not being “out of the woods”, as well as increasing numbers in positive tests and deaths in certain areas has led to endless arguments both between strangers on the internet and in politics.
In extreme cases, some relationships between friends and family may have strained or shattered during the time of vaccination rollout and distribution. The Golden State Warriors are hoping that the lack of action from one player on the roster won’t impact things as they try to break a two-season playoff drought.
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According to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s been an increased concern within the Warriors organization over starting forward Andrew Wiggins‘ choice not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Aside from potentially putting himself and others at risk health-wise, Wiggins could be putting his team at a home-court disadvantage if he doesn’t take action. It was announced at the start of September that in accordance with area regulations, the Dubs were among some NBA teams that wouldn’t be allowing unvaccinated players to “enter home arenas or facilities for games or team activities conducted there unless there’s approved medical or religious exemption.”
ESPN NBA reporter Nick Friedell reported early Thursday morning that the team declined to comment on the situation Wednesday night, citing “player privacy protocols.”
“In a statement to the Chronicle, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said it would not comment specifically on Wiggins’ situation – unless the NBA grants him a religious exemption,” Friedell wrote.
If Wiggins Intends to Play at Home, He’ll Need to Act Fast
When the vaccine was in the earlier stages of rollout, but still plenty available to NBA players, here’s what Wiggins said when he was asked about taking the vaccine.
According to NBC Sports Warriors Insider Monte Poole, “If Wiggins can’t show proof of vaccination by Oct. 13, he won’t be allowed in the building and will miss a game check with a pre-tax value of roughly $360,000.”
“If Paul George does not have proof of vaccination when the Los Angeles Clippers visit Chase Center for Opening Night on Oct. 21, he will be allowed to play – under three conditions,” Poole continued. “These are the conditions, as provided by San Francisco Department of Public Health official Noel Sanchez, that any opponent visiting Chase Center must meet.”
PG-13 would have to “remain at least six feet away from members of the public for the entire duration of the event”, “Provide the business, governmental entity, or other organization hosting the event with proof of a negative COVID-19 test (nucleic acid or antigen) taken within the 48 hours before the event”, and “Wear a well-gitted Mask at all times except while actively performing or playing.”
Poole notes that of course, these regulations are subject to change.
“Because all COVID-related policies will be updated and revised, based on the spread of the pandemic, it’s not likely that this mandate will remain in place for the duration of the regular season, which ends April 10, or the playoffs, which continue into June,” he wrote. “More than 85 percent of all NBA players are vaccinated, according to multiple reports. The Warriors would like to see their team reach 100 percent. That’s the only way the entire roster can enter Chase Center for practice or games.”
Wiggins’ Potential Absence Would Leave Warriors Severely Shorthanded
Looking at the basketball side of things, Wiggins’ possible absence from home games could leave Golden State seriously undermanned to start the season.
The Warriors already know that they’ll be without shooting guard Klay Thompson to begin the year and though the aim is to get him back on the court by Christmas Day, there is no guarantee. Additionally, center James Wiseman recently suffered a slight setback in his attempt to return from injury and it’s been reported that he won’t be ready for the start of training camp.
If Wiggins can’t suit up for half of the team’s games in the early weeks or months, that would mean that two, possibly three of the Warriors’ starting five would be relegated to the bench (or watching from home). Stephen Curry almost singlehandedly carried the Dubs to the NBA playoffs last season, and he may given an even tougher task this time around.