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Tension reportedly building between vaccinated NBA staff, unvaccinated 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.

As mandated by the league office, NBA coaches, training staffs, and anyone interacting with players must be fully vaccinated. Referees must be vaccinated to work games.

NBA Players have no such mandate; the union has called a mandate a “non-starter.” Several players — such as Bradley Beal — were defiantly anti-vaccination when speaking to the press on media day Monday.

That is leading to tension, with some staff not happy about dealing with unvaccinated players, something Baxter Holmes details in a well-reported story at ESPN.

In some instances, vaccinated staffers say they’re concerned about the health risks of being exposed to unvaccinated players. In others, staffers say they’re upset that players aren’t facing the same vaccine requirements as most team staff and referees. In others, there’s animosity toward the league itself for not imposing such a mandate.

“Everyone who is vaccinated should be pissed at those who aren’t,” a veteran assistant coach said, adding, “Not requiring NBA players to be vaccinated is horse s***.”...

One vaccinated Western Conference strength and conditioning coach said they’re concerned about a potential breakthrough case that could affect family members.

“For me, it’s a problem because my parents are very sick, and I’m in close contact with these guys and I would hate to bring this home and my parents pass away from it,” the coach told ESPN.

This echoes a fault line running through American society right now — the summer/fall surge in COVID-19 cases was largely of the unvaccinated, especially in terms of who was hospitalized. Which has led to
tension between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The science is clear: Unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized or die from the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and five times more likely to get the disease. Also, vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus. That leads some vaccinated people to see the unvaccinated as not exercising a personal choice but instead putting the health of the vaccinated and their families at risk.

The NBA and players union have said that 90% of NBA players are vaccinated, a number well above national averages. But for people fearful of bringing the virus home to their vulnerable families just because they did their job, that’s not high enough.