September 28, 2021 | 5:08 am EDT Update
Though roughly 90% of NBA players are vaccinated as training camp approaches Tuesday, tension exists between those around the league mandated to be vaccinated and the nearly 40 unvaccinated players, league sources told ESPN.
One general manager told ESPN that the issue of tension between those who are mandated to be vaccinated and those who aren’t “‘just speaks to selfishness run amok. But the NBA is comprised of human beings and we are seeing the same thing in the public at large.”
In some instances, vaccinated staffers say they’re concerned about the health risks of being exposed to unvaccinated players. In others, staffers say they’re upset that players aren’t facing the same vaccine requirements as most team staff and referees. In still others, there’s animosity toward the league itself for not imposing such a mandate.
One vaccinated Western Conference strength and conditioning coach said they’re concerned about a potential breakthrough case that could affect family members. “For me, it’s a problem because my parents are very sick, and I’m in close contact with these guys and I would hate to bring this home and my parents pass away from it,” the coach told ESPN.
Health and safety protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated players have not yet been finalized, league sources said. But it’s expected, as ESPN previously reported, that unvaccinated players will face more testing and be asked to sit in separate areas of team meetings, team meals, locker rooms, on the team plane and bus.
But a second league source also tied to training staffs noted that many peers “believe the league is prioritizing the athletes’ lives over their own. On the opposite side, some members don’t want to force anyone to vaccinate if they feel uncomfortable with it, but it should be a standard set across the board instead of the league one way and the players the other.”
NBA insiders say they’re not aware of any games being missed because of a reaction to the vaccine. Beal, though, did miss time. His case of COVID cost him a spot in the Olympics and the chance to compete for a gold medal.
There’s still time. The Warriors’ regular-season home opener is three weeks from Thursday and it’ll take two weeks from a Johnson & Johnson shot (the one he’d be offered, per sources) to be fully vaccinated. So Oct. 7 is the consequential date. He is eligible to practice this week and appear in the first four preseason games, since the San Francisco rule doesn’t enact until Oct. 13.