Basketball & Politics, Basketball & Society, NBA

Here’s the list of the every unvaccinated NBA player and anti-vaxxers

Right or wrong, sports stars are expected to be role models. Young kids look up to them, and worship them as heroes, so in return they are supposed to act sensibly, always doing and saying the right things, and set a good example to their fans. Of course, it isn’t ever quite that simple. Their job is to be a sportsman or women, and as long as they do that, being photographed drinking, smoking, or coming out of a club at 3am after a match shouldn’t matter. 

This issue has come to a head recently over the discussion of which players have or have not received the COVID-19 vaccination. As expected, people in various sports have contrasting opinions on it. Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool FC has encouraged his players and staff to all have the vaccine, to protect not only themselves but those close to them, seeing it as the responsible thing to do.

However, in other sports, players and coaches are less keen to be vaccinated. This was seen recently in the NFL, where Green Bay Packers star quarterback Arron Rodgers had to miss the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, after testing positive. Had people already placed bets on this game, before the announcement, it would have severely altered the outcome of wager.

It isn’t just in the NFL that lack of vaccinations is becoming an issue, as over in the NBA the same thing is happening, causing a major impact on athletes, franchises, fans and even sportsbooks and bettors. For example the news of a player on a specific team not being vaccinated will have a direct impact on the NBA picks bettors will review before placing their bets. Basketball betting fans don’t know which players will be available for a game and which won’t, due to them not being sure if they’ll test positive for COVID, or if they have been fully vaccinated. Previously, if you had been consistently betting on a team, but then one, or several players weren’t available, it would make you have to alter your betting habits.

Irving a big loss for the Nets

Kyrie Irving has been around the NBA for a long time. He was with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2011 to 2017, winning the NBA in 2016. From there, he moved to the Boston Celtics in 2017, spending 2 seasons in Massachusetts, before joining the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. As a point guard, he is arguably the player with the best handles. He’s an 7-time NBA All-Star team 7.

His career seems to have hit a stumbling block, however, as the Nets’ general manager Sean Marks announced that Irving would be ineligible to play, or even practice with the team, until he gets vaccinated. New York has a COVID-19 mandate, meaning that anyone taking part in group activities or professional sports teams, needs to prove they have been vaccinated. It appears that Irving’s stance hasn’t changed, meaning the Nets are now considering trading him. If another team would be willing to trade such an outspoken and controversial character is another matter. It also means Irving won’t be paid while he sits out, which could mean he loses out on millions of dollars.

What NBA players are vaccinated?

No doubt that Kyrie Irving is the poster child for the unvaccinated, but he’s not alone.

It is very hard to keep up with, as not all players are talking about whether they’ve taken the vaccine or not. Thankfully, it has been reported that 90% of NBA players have been vaccinated, which is much higher in most sports, and in the United States as a whole. 

The problem then is the 10% who have yet to be vaccinated, especially when it contravenes certain state laws. That leaves a couple dozen players that haven’t yet received their first dose. Here’s some of the players that have publicly stated they were unvaccinated, are apprehensive about the vaccines, or declared they weren’t going to get the vaccined against COVID-19.

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards stated during his team’s media day at the start of the season that he had not been vaccinated. He was quoted as saying “I would like an explanation to people with vaccines, why are they still getting COVID? If that’s something we’re supposed to be highly protected from, that’s funny that it only reduces your chances of going to hospital.”

It appears as if Beal’s stance has changed, as his children are now going to be heading off to preschool.

Andrew Wiggins was unvaccinated against COVID prior to the season. With his Golden State Warriors based in San Francisco, one of the early cities to put forward a vaccine mandate, something was going to have to give. Ultimately, Wiggins got the shot and was ready for the season.

Michael Porter Jr. has publicly questioned the vaccines saying “My main thing is: We don’t have years and years of data for how it can affect you,” Porter recently told the Ringer. “I’m not against the vaccine. What I’m against is not allowing other people to have a choice, or people trying to force it on other people.”

Whether MPJ has gotten the shot is uncertain, but doesn’t seem to matter as back pain is keeping the rising Nuggers star off the court.

When Dennis Schröder was with the Los Angeles Lakers late last season, he was asked if he had COVID and had a very confusing response, saying: “No, I didn’t test positive. I went to separate things to get tested, but I mean, it is what it is, like I said.” said Schröder. “I’m the only guy who didn’t get vaccinated, so I’m gonna just leave it at that.”

In another quote from earlier in 2021, Schröder pulled Lebron James under the bus with him, tellling German media outlet NTV that he and LeBron were the only Lakers not vaccinated. This was April 2021.

Jonathan Issac, a forward for the Orlando Magic, believes that he has natural immunity, due to having caused COVID-19 a few months ago. He doesn’t seem to fear getting it, as he already has the antibodies, and given his age and physical condition, he believes he shouldn’t be too badly affected by the virus again.

Kent Bazemore stated last season that he wouldn’t get the vaccine when he was playing with the Warriors, but since signing with the Lakers earlier this year, he told the media that he received his first dose. “When the vaccine first came out, I felt like it was kind of forced on me, and I’m not a person who responds well to that.” Bazemore told the Los Angeles Times back in March 2021,  “… I’m a big energy person. I didn’t really feel the right energy toward it, but I had a good call with Rob Pelinka, and he laid it down to me in the most fairly honest way that I ever heard.”

Matisse Thybulle got one of the two Pfizer vaccine shots early on, but decided not to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This apparently wasn’t much of an issue until the Sixers were lined up against Toronto in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Canada doesn’t allow unvaccinated players to enter the country since January 15, 2022. Thybulle mentioned that he grew up in a household with more Eastern medicine philosophy and that his late mother Elizabeth has a degree in naturopathic medicine

Recently, the usually-quiet John Stockton came out in support of Kyrie’s stance against getting the vaccine saying he’s proud of Irving. He went on to say that  “there’s not a chance I would risk any of that to play,” Stockton said. “My hope would be other guys would join in. And all of us lock arms. And none of us play.” Stockton didn’t stop there, doubling-down on some unproven theories about the pharmaceutical executives.

…”‘serial felons’ heading up pharmaceutical companies, who — according to him — have convinced doctors to push dangerous vaccines on the basis of fraudulent research.’

Now that I think about it, I’m sure Karl Malone is also unvaxxed. Just saying. Just so we’re clear the CDC has stated that the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective and through clinical trials, and has stated that long-term side effects to be “extremely unlikely.”

LeBron speaking sense, as usual

Earlier in the pandemic, LeBron stated he was sceptical about the vaccine, but has since changed his mind about vaccination.  Obviously, LeBron is an incredibly important figure in the NBA, so his speaking out on either side of the COVID-19 vaccine will impact the players, teams, the league, and fans perspectives and opinions. Thankfully, James has come out and said that he is vaccinated.

“I know that for me I can speak about myself,” James told Sports Illustrated. “I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family, and things of that nature. 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 for my family and for my friends, and that’s why I decided to do it.”

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