Cobb: The National Basketball Association needs to require the COVID-19 vaccine for players

<p>Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam engages with Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol during a dead ball in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals June 2, 2019. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored 23 points, while forward Draymond Green scored 17 points in the 109-104 win. <strong> </strong><em><strong>Chensiyuan, Photo Courtesy </strong></em></p>

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam engages with Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol during a dead ball in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals June 2, 2019. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored 23 points, while forward Draymond Green scored 17 points in the 109-104 win.  Chensiyuan, Photo Courtesy

Derran Cobb is a freshman journalism and telecommunications major and writes for the The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be a nationwide debate, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has its own drama with the vaccine.

While there is no vaccine mandate for players, NBA referees and team personnel are required to be vaccinated. According to ESPN, around 95% of NBA players have received both vaccine shots against the virus. However, there are still players skeptical of the vaccine, including Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

Unvaccinated players are unable to play a game if the home arena requires proof of vaccination. This is the case for three teams — the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, California, and the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, both in New York. Since these arenas don't allow unvaccinated players to compete, unvaccinated players on the three teams could only play 41 away games, which is only half of a full, 82-game season.  

The National Basketball Players Association (NBAPA) did not come to an agreement on mandating the vaccine, unlike the referees association. The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has a 99% vaccination rate.

The NBA is allowing exemption to the vaccine if there is proof of religious or health reasons. Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins attempted to use this in his appeal against the vaccine.

The NBA rejected it.

Irving isn't the only player who is unvaccinated. Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal hasn't received the vaccine because of the possible side effects.

“Some people have bad reactions to the vaccine," Beal said. "Nobody likes to talk about that. What happens if one of our players gets the vaccine and can’t play after that?"

However, there are no studies indicatIng truth in this claim.  

Another player who spoke out against the vaccine is Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac. He said his vaccine beliefs come from former President Donald Trump press conferences and studying Black history. Isaac repeatedly affirms he is not anti-vaccine, but he doesn’t trust people enough.

On the other hand, there are players and coaches who are actively advocating for everyone, not just players, to be vaccinated.

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam prepares for tip-off against Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodola during Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals June 2, 2019. The Warriors appeared in five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019, earning three championships. Chensiyuan, Photo Courtesy 



Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns had seven family members die due to complications from COVID, including his mother Jacqueline Cruz. In an interview with Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Towns expressed his displeasure.

"It never matters to people until it happens to them," Towns said. "I hope no one has to deal with what I've had to, and still continue to deal with."

Towns claims people find new ways to justify their claims daily.

“Every day I see a new excuse why people ain’t getting the vaccine,” Towns said in this tweet. “[You guys are] starting to get creative with these 'reasons' though and it’s actually really funny.” 

I agree with Towns. It seems like every day I hear a friend or classmate state their reasons, or I see a new post on social media saying the vaccine isn’t safe.

I believe everyone should get the vaccine. I think the vaccine carries a tremendous importance in the NBA.

One of the ways to prevent the spread COVID is to stay at least six feet apart, which is not possible in the sport of basketball. In order to combat the spread, a vaccine would be extremely helpful since players are close to each other.

During the 2019-20 season, the NBA's revenue dropped 10 percent to $8.3 billion due to stoppage of play according to ESPN.

If the NBA truly wants to protect the players safety and avoid another shutdown leading to revenue loss, they need to install a vaccine mandate.

Contact Derran Cobb with comments at derran.cobb@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Derran_cobb

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