The NBA has become aggressively more political in recent years, from direct statements and slogans painted on courts to putting messages on team uniforms and warmup attire.
They’ve also been one of the most overt promoters of COVID vaccines, with commissioner Adam Silver stating that he would have “preferred” if the player’s association had agreed to a mandatory policy.
Silver also refused to get involved with New York City’s disgraceful ban on unvaccinated players competing, which severely impacted Kyrie Irving and the Nets during the 2021-2022 season.
Despite the league’s blatantly political statements on other issues, Silver demurred on Irving, saying it was between him and the city and that it would have been “best for everyone” if he’d gotten the shot:
“This is between Irving and New York City right now,” he continued. “This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated.”
After that disgraceful exchange, new reports thankfully emerged recently that Silver and the NBA will not have a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for players or league personnel for the upcoming year.
This is, of course, the only acceptable policy. The vaccines are exclusively a personal health decision, with no demonstrable benefit to others. Mandatory policies accomplish nothing, especially for young, ostensibly healthy world class athletes.
Even so, somehow they may still try to test “unvaccinated” players, despite the overwhelming evidence that vaccinated individuals easily get and transmit COVID:
“According to a league memo obtained by @YahooSports, the NBA will not have a vaccine mandate in place next season, but will strongly suggest all personnel be up to date with vaccinations. Periodic testing of unvaccinated players could be allowed, pending discussions with NBPA.”
Last season, the league proudly announced vaccination rates exceeded 95%, with one report saying it reached as high as 97% among players.
Immediately afterwards, nearly 100 NBA players entered COVID protocols in less than a month due to “massive outbreaks.”
Makes perfect sense to keep harassing unvaccinated players, doesn’t it?
Many other corporations, leagues and organizations will be forced to make similar choices in the coming months, with hopefully similar results.
Whether or not the decision came from Silver or from a realization that the union would never agree, it speaks to the absurdity of continued mandates that the league would now have to enforce booster and potentially even second booster shot mandates to ensure players were “up to date.”
Imposing or continuing mandates at this point in the pandemic implies that they will become a permanent part of life. Thankfully for the NBA, that appears to be off the table for now.