According to a memo obtained by ESPN, those NBA players who are unvaccinated will be forced to keep their distance from their inoculated teammates, including when in the locker rooms, dining, and traveling. Per the league’s pending COVID-19 protocols, players will even have to occupy completely different sections of buses and planes as well.
Teams like the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden Warriors will feel the effects of this policy more severely since it says those teams’ unvaccinated players will have to sit out home games, in accordance with laws passed in New York City and San Francisco. Furthermore, players on those teams who choose to remain unvaccinated may face fines, suspensions, and docks in salary for “failing to provide services called for by their contracts,” as reported by the Washington Post.
The official tip-off date of the 2021-2022 season is currently October 19, and the National Basketball Players Association is discussing the proposed rules with league officials. However, what is clear is that vaccinated players should have a much more lenient time than their unvaccinated peers.
If a player is vaccinated, then he will not have to undergo daily testing; instead, he will only be subject to an exam if he shows symptoms of infection or had a possible incident of exposure from someone who verifiably tested positive for COVID-19.
By contrast, unvaccinated players will be tested at practices as well as game days. The memo also says that some teams’ schedules mean those players may have to be tested twice on certain game days. Furthermore, if an unvaxxed player has a “close contact” who was infected with COVID-19, then that player must also enter into a seven-day quarantine, irrespective of symptoms. This is a key difference since vaccinated players with similar “close contacts” will only have to quarantine if they show symptoms.
The memo says that the league is also working with the NBPA to mandate COVID-19 antibodies test for all players as part of their preseason physicals. NBA great Charles Barkley already let it be known he thinks players who chose not to get vaccinated “are just a**holes,” and the crew of ESPN’s The Jump discussed the pressure of forcing players to take the vaccine during last season’s playoffs.