NBA Reportedly Won't Require Players to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 14, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 03: Basketballs are seen on a rack on the court before the NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on April 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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The NBA isn't planning to issue a COVID-19 vaccine requirement to its players, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes and Adrian Wojnarowski

Per the report, the NBA Players Association has "refused to budge" in its stance toward a mandate, so the topic remains a "non-starter," as the NBA and players' union work on COVID-19 protocols.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported in August a number of team personnel will need to be fully vaccinated to have face-to-face access to players:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

The following NBA personnel must be fully vaccinated in order to conduct in-person interactions with players and refs: Coaching staff, medical/performance staff, equipment, front office, player development, team/arena security, PR, social media, scorer's table, attendants. <a href="https://t.co/E2EWbrTBkG">https://t.co/E2EWbrTBkG</a>

Because the NBA negotiates separately with the NBPA, those mandates don't extend to active players.

However, players will be subject to local COVID-19 guidelines. ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported Sept. 1 the NBA sent a memo confirming it will abide by vaccine requirements made by officials in New York City and San Francisco.

Anybody aged 13 or older has to show proof of receiving at least one vaccine dose to enter Madison Square Garden or local fitness centers, which covers members of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.

Likewise, Golden State Warriors players will be affected by a San Francisco law mandating full vaccinations for those over 12 using indoor gyms or attending major events.

In both cases, there are exemptions on medical or religious grounds.

Negotiations on the COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season are ongoing, with Bontemps and Brian Windhorst reporting on some early proposals.

"Unvaccinated NBA players will have lockers as far away as possible from their vaccinated teammates and will have to eat, fly and ride buses in different sections as part of the league's anticipated COVID-19 health and safety protocols," their report read.

Unvaccinated players may also be subject to more frequent COVID-19 testing and extensive quarantine periods if discovered to be a close contact with a COVID-19-positive individual. 

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season:<br><br>- Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing<br>- Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; Two negative tests on Game Day. <a href="https://t.co/ASKdCdfD1t">https://t.co/ASKdCdfD1t</a>

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill in July the union had a vaccination rate of 90 percent.