COVID-19 & The NBA: Jordan Supports League Vaccine Plan

It’s time to Break It Down!

Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the reigning NBA G.O.A.T., has come down on the side of the NBA’s strategy for player vaccination. As the League’s preseason is underway, presaging next week’s Season Opener, lots of attention has been garnered by several of the League’s marquee players. 

Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving, stars for the Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets, respectively, have been cited in the last couple of weeks for their controversial stances on the vaccine. Wiggins initially, in interviews, stated his refusal to get the vaccine. Irving has declined to state his vaccination status, saying it’s personal. Both of their positions were more complicated than that of many other players because Health Departments in the cities of San Francisco and New York, where the Warriors and Nets play their home games, have established provisions that forbid allowing unvaccinated players from the home team from entering the arena. The proviso does not apply to players from visiting teams.

On September 28th, LeBron James told the press assembled at the Lakers’ Media Day, that he’d been vaccinated, despite his initial reservations. Ultimately, he concluded it was in the best interest of he and his family to get vaccinated. James said he did not plan to encourage other players to get vaccinated, calling it an individual choice. The Lakers Coach, Frank Vogel, indicated that the team is fully vaccinated. On October 3rd, Steve Nash, the Warrior’s Coach, announced that Wiggins had relented and gotten vaccinated.

There is no NBA vaccine mandate. The Players’ Union declared that a nonstarter at the outset of negotiations about determining and rolling out League-wide Covid restrictions. On October 10, Nets Coach Steve Nash announced the Nets expected to play home games without Kyrie; yesterday, General Manager, Sean Marks, released a statement indicating the team has suspended Kyrie Irving until he gets vaccinated. He added, the team concluded their players must be available full-time.

It is within this context that Jordan’s statement emerges. The six-time Champion and Finals MVP, and current Charlotte Hornets team owner made his statement in the wake of James’ overcoming his vaccine skepticism, Wiggins’ reversal, and Irving’s criticizing the League’s Covid Guidelines and resisting vaccination (which led to his suspension). Jordan, who is 58 years-old, voiced his support by saying:

“I am total in unison with the league, and I think everybody, you know, has been speaking about the vaccinations. And, you know, I’m a firm believer in science and, you know, I’m going to stick with that and hopefully, everybody abides by whatever the league sets as the rules.

I think once everybody buys in, we’re going the be fine.”

Despite the lack of a League-wide mandate, the NBA reports that over 90 percent of the League’s players have been vaccinated, including several entire teams. Andrew Wiggins recently received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after holding out until the start of the NBA’s preseason this month. He admitted, he’s still a skeptic, saying in a press conference after the Warriors and Trailblazers played a preseason game:

“The only options were to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA. It was a tough decision. Hopefully, it works out in the long run and in 10 years I’m still healthy.

It feels good to play, but getting vaccinated, that’s going to be something that stays in my mind for a long time. It’s not something I wanted to do, but I was kind of forced to.”

In the overall scheme of things, it sounds as if the NBA’s vaccination plan will succeed. Its Ninety percent participation rate dwarfs that of the nation as a whole. It also appears that arenas across the League are implementing protocols to protect fans, players, and anyone who enters the facilities. It’s a long season; it will take time for it to play out in all relevant dimensions. Considering all that has unfolded to date, it’s refreshing to know that while some of the players remain unconvinced regarding the viability of this matter so vital to the health and welfare of all of them, as well as all of us, the G.O.A.T. and the King (and perhaps future G.O.A.T.) are on the same page. “COVID-19 & The NBA: Jordan Supports League Vaccine Plan!”

I’m done; holla back!

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