For the 2021-2022 NBA season, there was a proposed mandate from the league office that 100 percent of players get vaccinated against COVID-19–but some players just aren’t letting that happen.
According to reports from Rolling Stone, the NBA wanted mandatory vaccinations for all players in an effort to cut down on the constant COVID tests they’ve been administering for almost two years now. Plus, they want their players to stay safe and healthy throughout the whole season. Unfortunately, Kyrie Irving and other anti-vaxxers in the league aren’t going to comply. This comes following reports that most of the league is already fully vaccinated, including LeBron James, who has dodged questions about the matter in the past.
This month, New York and San Francisco revealed they would require pro athletes to show proof of one COVID-19 vaccination dose to play indoors, except with an approved medical or religious exemption. That’s already proven to be a problem for Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, and now, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving–who is known for being receptive to conspiracy theories–is the one gaining a lot of attention for not wanting to get the jab and potentially missing out on every home game to do so.
While a spokeswoman for Irving declined to respond to a list of questions regarding his vaccination and playing status from Rolling Stone, he recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.”
“He is going to try to figure that out as it comes, because it’s not religious-based, it’s moral-based,” Irving’s aunt Tyki said about New York’s vaccine mandate for home games. “You may have to sit on the sideline, you might not have to be in the arena during this. If it’s that freaking important to get a vaccine that, hell, it’s still not preventing the Covid” — which it is — “then I’d rather them working it out that way than to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t get the vaccine, then you can’t be a part of the franchise that you f***in’ helped build.’”
Representatives for Kevin Durant and his fellow Nets superstar teammate, James Harden, did not respond to Rolling Stone’s inquiries about whether they had yet to receive any shots. Brooklyn’s “Big Three” are scheduled to speak on Monday morning at a league-mandated pre-season media day, which Irving skipped last year because, he wrote on Instagram, the media are “pawns.”
Irving’s aunt expected him to discuss vaccine hesitancy in the Black community, as well as the tragic experiments on sharecroppers in Tuskegee, while “providing just as much knowledge and research base that you necessarily don’t have to take this vaccine — some of it is fake news, some of it is fake information, some of it is Doctor False-y, you don’t really know.”
But, of course, it’s not just Kyrie. The Orlando Magic’s 23-year-old starting forward, Jonathan Isaac, is deeply religious and proudly unvaccinated.
When NBA players started lining up for shots in March, Isaac started studying Black history and watching Donald Trump’s press conferences, which is when he came to distrust Dr. Anthony Fauci. He looked out for people who might die from the vaccine, and he put faith in God.
“At the end of the day, it’s people,” Isaac says of the scientists developing vaccines, “and you can’t always put your trust completely in people.”
While 90% of the league is reportedly already vaccinated, it looks like the last 10% isn’t giving up without a fight.