NBC Sports

Why Warriors could have home-court disadvantage this season

NBC Sports
Chase Center

It was six months ago that Andrew Wiggins announced his intention to avoid all COVID-19 vaccines unless he was “forced to” get the jab. If he has not changed his stance, and there is no public knowledge of such, he would pay a price.

So would the Warriors.

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.

These are the conditions, as provided by San Francisco Department of Public Health official Noel Sanchez, that any opponent visiting Chase Center must meet:

1. Remain at least six feet away from members of the public for the entire duration of the event

2. 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

3. Wear a well-gitted Mask at all times except while actively performing or playing.

What, then, would Kent Bazemore do? As a member of the Warriors last season, he went public with his anti-vax stance. He’s now with the Los Angeles Lakers. If KB is unvaccinated and wants to play, he’d have to strap on his mask until he enters the game.

He would, however, be able to play. As would any of his unvaccinated teammates who test negative within the 48-hour window before tip-off.

 

Which, conceptually, could put the Warriors, presumably fighting for postseason seeding, at a competitive disadvantage.

Here, within Sanchez’s e-mail to NBC Sports Bay Area, is the gist of the official DPH statement:

"As soon as possible, but no later than October 13, 2021, operators or hosts of indoor Mega-Events and Large Indoor Events must require all staff to show proof, before entering the facility, that they are Fully Vaccinated, subject to any applicable requirements of federal, state, or local laws requiring accommodation. For clarity, “staff” as used in this Section 7 does not include all individuals included in the broader term “Personnel.” Performers or players who are not employed by the Business, governmental entity, or other organization hosting the event (e.g., members of visiting teams and independent performers not employed by the host) are not covered by this Section, but are strongly encouraged to be Fully Vaccinated before playing or performing in San Francisco."

“Mega-events” are defined as any indoor gathering exceeding 5,000 people or any outdoor gathering exceeding 10,000 people. Capacity at Chase Center is just north of 18,000.

So, all Warriors employees, players or otherwise, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 13 to enter Chase Center. Those not employed by the Warriors, such as the Portland Trail Blazers or the Miami Heat, are not subject to the restriction and need only to meet the three requirements before being allowed inside.

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.

But San Francisco and New York, as of now, are the only cities that require full vaccination from all employees under this umbrella. Until otherwise amended, this rule will apply to home games for the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, as well as the Warriors. The NBA is on board and will adhere to local mandates.

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The NBA continues to monitor the effects of the pandemic and is involved in ongoing negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association. Though the league has mandated its employees, including referees, be vaccinated, the NBPA has been stridently against such a mandate.

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.

The Warriors can’t force any of their players to get vaccinated. No employer can. What some employers are doing is giving their workforce the option to either get vaccinated or be terminated. It’s draconian, but that may be required to stem the flow of this relentless deadly pandemic.

That said, it seems likely that Wiggins or any player who has expressed an unwillingness to be vaccinated will feel “forced to” do so. Money usually, if not always, gets the last word.

 

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