NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts said she is prepared to fight the league on withholding pay of the players who can’t play due to vaccination status.
“We’ll see about that,” Roberts told the Daily News on Wednesday. “They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked [pay]. We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”
Unvaccinated players in markets with local COVID restrictions will now be banned from arenas unless they have a medical or religious exemption and will be fined for missing games.
Local laws in San Francisco and New York mean that players for the Warriors, Nets and New York Knicks will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play home games, but the Knicks have since announced the team is 100% vaccinated.
The NBA told teams that visiting clubs are exempt from the New York and San Francisco requirements.
Nets star Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated and is also a union vice president, is not able to play games in Barclays Center or practice in the team’s facility in Brooklyn. ESPN reports he could lose approximately $383,000 for every home game missed due to protocols.
Roberts said the NBAPA’s position is not that the league can’t punish a player for being unvaccinated, but that the league’s position is that “we don’t need your agreement because the [c collective bargaining agreement] allows that anyway.”
“Right now, we’ve agreed that if a player breaks protocols, he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp,” she said. “But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”
Roberts said she hopes the NBA reaches a 100% vaccination rate but told Daily News she rejects any criticism about her clients’ hesitancy — the leaguewide vaccination rate is now around 95%.
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