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Report: NBA reaches 95% vaccination rate among players

Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal are among the NBA stars who are not vaccinated at this point. Michael Holley and Michael Smith break down whether this is bigger than basketball.

For some, maybe it was the threat of missing some game checks. Maybe it was seeing the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the coming season and not wanting to jump through all those extra hoops. Maybe it was peer pressure from vaccinated teammates. Maybe some players did actual research, talked to real experts, and decided getting vaccinated was the best thing to protect them and their families.

Whatever the reason, the NBA’s vaccination rate of players who have gotten at least one shot is up to 95%, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

There has been a lot of focus on three big-name unvaccinated players — Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards — but the vast majority of players were already vaccinated and in recent weeks a lot of unvaccinated players have decided to get the jab. Still, the number of unvaccinated players led to tension with some team staff (that staff has to be vaccinated, as do NBA referees).

There is no mandate by the NBA that players need to be vaccinated, that would require the approval of the NBA players union, which has called the issue a “non-starter.” In addition to education programs and outreach from teams, the NBA laid out some health and safety protocols — now backed by the union — that may lead some players to get vaccinated just for convenience. Under the protocols to start the season, unvaccinated players must be masked and at least six feet away from everyone else at team meetings, they must stay in the team hotel on the road (they can’t go out with other teammates), they can’t eat in the same room with vaccinated teammates, and their lockers must be six feet away from vaccinated players.

Whatever the reason, the NBA’s vaccination rate is rising, although it has not reached the WNBA’s 99% yet.