The NBA’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for officials has left one long-time referee without a job.
Ken Mauer, who was hired by the Association in 1986, refused to take the vaccine due to religious reasons. Mauer lost his job, despite the fact that he’s the third-longest tenured referee in NBA history.
“I never thought that my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ would prevent me or stop me or get in the way of me refereeing NBA basketball games… That’s what happened,” Mauer said Monday, via Larry Brown Sports. “Not to just me, but other people.”
Mauer, 66, said that as many as 17 officials initially refused to take the vaccine. Once the season began, just four holdouts remained, including Mauer. His goal of becoming the league’s longest tenured referee is now in doubt, that is until the NBA’s vaccine mandate for officials changes.
“There are many referees that didn’t want to take the vaccine,” Mauer said. “And there are many referees who were forced to because they have children, they have families, and they have bills to pay. … They’re scared and I’m not. I’m never going to take [the vaccine].”
While officials are required to take the vaccine, players notably are not. Situations for unvaccinated players can be difficult depending on where they play, as has been seen with Nets guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving, the most outspoken unvaccinated player in the NBA, has yet to play a home game this season in the Barclays Center due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
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