The anti-vaccine hysteria is now sweeping through the NBA like a fast-break layup. A number of basketball players like Kyrie Irving and Jonathan Issac have shared their controversial opinions about receiving a jab of the COVID-19 vaccine. Huge consequences could loom for Irving, in particular, whose ability to play in upcoming games for the Brooklyn Nets remains uncertain. The NBA star missed out on Media day at the Barclays center on Sept. 27 because he wasn’t fully vaccinated. Irving, who virtually spoke to reporters over Zoom, declined to further comment on his vaccination status.
“Living in this public sphere, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie,” he said explained. “I would love to just keep that private and handle that the right way with my team and go forward with a plan.”
The 29-year-old athlete made headlines after a Rolling Stones article was published detailing some players pushback against the NBA’s vaccine mandate. Kyrie’s aunt Tyki Irving was quoted saying that he wanted to remain unvaccinated for reasons that were “not religious-based” but “moral-based.”
When reporters nudged the former seven-time All-star champion on whether he would be getting a shot soon, he replied.
“Please, just respect my privacy. All the questions kind of leading into what’s happening, just please — everything will be released at a due date, and once we get this cleared up … I’m just excited to enjoy this day by day and the journey, man. However this comes, the ups, the downs, the good, the bad — I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team.”
Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated may cost him a serious paycheck. NBA spokesman Mike Bass previously said in a statement that “Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” according to the New York Post. Sports centers like Barclays and the Chase Center in San Francisco have issued a vaccine mandate requiring home players to be fully vaccinated in order to play. The famous point guard would be barred from playing at the Barclays Center and from participating in HSS training. For Irving, who’s currently under a $136 million 4-year-contract, that decision could be costly. “Irving would lose over $400,000 each game he misses under the league’s policy,” the outlet notes.
The Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins tried to obtain a religious exemption to forgo the vaccine, but the league swiftly declined his request last week. Wiggins also refused to talk about his vaccination status at Golden State’s media day, but he has shared his view’s on the life-saving drug in the past. Here’s what Wiggins and a few other players in the NBA have said regarding their vaccine beliefs.
1. Andrew WigginsSource:Getty
“I don’t really see myself getting it any time soon, unless I’m forced to somehow. Other than that, I’m good.”
2. Kent BazemoreSource:Getty
“I do everything I can to strengthen my immune system, with hours upon hours of cooking, preparing my meals at home, really being conscious of what I put in my body, and taking care of my health. My family has a history of heart disease and all these different things, and I’m trying to turn that around for my lineage. So, I’m taking it upon myself to do everything I can to keep my immune system strong and live a healthy and long life.”
3. Dwight HowardSource:Getty
“Do I believe in vaccinations? No, I don’t. That’s my personal opinion, but no, I don’t.”
4. Trey BurkeSource:Getty
“F*ck a vaccination, Burke said via his Instagram stories. “Tryna kill us YOU …you crazy you think otherwise!”
He continued by telling his followers to “Pick a side” before explaining that he would rather put his faith in his religion. “I choose the Most High through Christ could careless [sic] what the world think [shrugging emoji].”
Burke went on to suggest that he didn’t care what anybody thought about his opinion on getting vaccinated, something he likened to radio-frequency identification (RFID) — tracking devices — that by definition uses “electronic tags placed on objects, people, or animals to relay identifying information to an electronic reader by means of radio waves.” Burke said “RFID in full effect and they ready to implement!”
5. Bradley BealSource:Getty
“I dont think you can pressure anybody into doing things, or putting things in their body. I would ask the question to those who are getting vaccinated, ‘why are you still getting COVID’?… You can still get COVID and still pass it along if vaccinated. So…”
Beal later clarified:
“I’m still considering getting the vaccine, so one thing I want to make clear is that I’m not sitting up here advocating that you should’t get the vaccine..I’m not sitting here saying I won’t get it.
6. LeBron JamesSource:Getty
While he isn’t an anti-vaxxer, LeBron James shared during the Lakers’ media day event that he won’t be pushing his vaccine beliefs on players who don’t want to get vaccinated.
“I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family,” the NBA champ said, according to USA Today.
“I know that I was very (skeptical) about it all, but after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but my family and my friends, and that’s why I decided to do it.”
“We’re talking about individuals’ bodies,” James continued. “We’re not talking about something that’s political or racism or police brutality and things of that nature.”
“We’re talking about people’s bodies and well-beings. I don’t feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods.”
7. Jonathan IsaacSource:Getty
Following the uproar behind his controversial comments in the Rolling Stones article, Isaac clarified his remarks during the Orlando Magic’s media day event.
“I am not anti-vax, I’m not anti-medicine, I am not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current stance by studying Black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences (as the story states). I have nothing but the utmost respect for every healthcare worker and person in Orlando and all across the world that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe. My mom has worked in healthcare for a really long time. I thank God and I’m grateful that I live in a society where vaccines are possible, and we can protect ourselves and have the means to protect ourselves.”
“But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice. Completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time. We’re all different. We all come from different places. We’ve all had different experiences and hold dear to different beliefs. And what it is you do with your body when it comes to putting medicine in there should be your choice, free of the ridicule and the opinion of others.”