The NBA has started a full-court press with promotional efforts to encourage its players and the general public to take the vaccine for the coronavirus. “For myself and my family, I am going to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in an NBA-sanctioned PSA. “To learn more about the vaccines, go to CDC.gov. Let’s do this together.”
Abdul-Jabbar’s endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine is significant both because of his health history and his efforts to speak out on various social justice issues. Abdul-Jabbar, 73, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia 11 years ago. He revealed in a recent article for WebMD that he has also had prostate cancer and heart bypass surgery. Abdul-Jabbar told USA TODAY Sports last year that the treatment for leukemia is "an ongoing thing."
Tom Orsborn: Asked if Spurs are taking extra precautions with Becky Hammon, Drew Eubanks and a staffer in COVID-19 protocols, Pop replied, "We are doing everything possible. There's not much more we can do." He also said he has not been vaccinated.
Michele Roberts knows calls are coming about the COVID-19 vaccines, calls about the NBA players she represents, calls from those very players and even calls about herself, a 64-year-old Black woman who could very well have the option to take the vaccine.
Even if the questions are the same, the answers may not be. The National Basketball Players Association executive director has been doing her own research on the viability of the vaccines, weighing whether she will take it. But whether she takes it doesn’t give a definitive indication on what her recommendation to the players will be — a reasonable complication of a very layered, complex and downright scary situation.
“I got some very close friends. And really smart people have said to me, ‘Michele, it’s a no-brainer, of course, you’ll take the vaccine,’” Roberts said in a recent phone conversation with Yahoo Sports. “Unlike my players, I’m considerably older than they are and probably further up on the list. “But I haven’t made up my mind. I’m eager to be convinced that these are safe. I’m hopeful I’ll be convinced that they’re safe. But I’m not a cheerleader … I’m not at a place yet where I would wholeheartedly and fulsomely say, absolutely, you have to take it.”
The NBA, according to league sources, is very sensitive to being accused of taking advantage and giving its players the vaccine ahead of frontline workers, the vulnerable and the elderly. “We won’t jump the line” is a familiar refrain stated by commissioner Adam Silver. But given the sporadic distribution and seemingly passive response by the current administration, there’s no rhyme or reason to “the line” after the obvious people who will receive it.
“The sad fact, health care in our communities has never been anything other than subpar,” Roberts said, mentioning Tuskegee. “Our community’s suspicions about the bona fide ease of treatment that’s offered to us as well, let’s face it, Black pregnant women have an exponentially greater possibility of dying in childbirth, than their white counterparts, solely because of the quality of care that they receive. So you know, the African American players in the NBA are members of the African American community, that to the extent our community has certain sensitivities, not surprisingly, our players are going to have those sensitivities.”
The league has answered questions on myriad topics with the players, ranging from players who’ve caught the virus already and are unsure of taking the vaccine, to the function of the antibodies with the vaccine. It can suggest but not demand players take it — which may or may not be reflective of what’s to come nationally. “So ... if I don’t see a national requirement, a federal requirement — [President-elect] Biden’s often said that he’s not prepared to go down that road,” Roberts said. “But I think that there are going to be enough pockets of industry, where you will see [pseudo]-requirements. I think that some private employers might be able to do it.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA has informed teams that infectious disease and public health experts advising the league has concluded, consistent with FDA, that the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are "safe and effective," league tells teams in a memo obtained by ESPN.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Nets and BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi told CNBC that the NBA will face huge losses without fans in the stands this season, but he’s hopeful that as things return to normal with COVID vaccines, arenas will be full again by the post-season. Abbamondi added he’s also hopeful that the NBA season will survive “bumps along this road” as the play resumes while the pandemic continues to rage across the country. The concern, he said, begins with players testing positive for the coronavirus.
Abbamondi told CNBC that NBA teams hope they’ll be able to welcome fans back in time for the postseason, when gate revenues —and team profits— are usually at their highest. In the meantime, the league has raised $900 million and will provide teams with $30 million each to stay afloat for the year. “We are optimistic that before this season is over, which will be in the summer of next year, things are going to look very different,” Abbamondi said. “There is a lot of caution, but there’s also a sense of optimism, and I think all Americans share that.”
When asked about the idea of the league returning to a bubble for the playoffs, Silver said that anything is a possibility, but his hope is the vaccine for COVID-19 is successful enough that by the time the playoffs are scheduled to start in late May, there is a chance fans could be back in arenas. "It's our hope that given the planned rollout of the vaccine that we'll be going in the other direction, that it'll become increasingly more likely that there will be a return to a home-court advantage," Silver said. "That come May, June, July, which right now our season is targeted to end mid-July, that by that point there really will be a meaningful opportunity to have fans in our building."
Carlisle has made that decision partly because his wife is an infectious disease doctor. Others, however, say they need more information before committing, including Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes and coach Luke Walton, Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby and Suns coach Monty Williams. “As a father, I can’t just put anything in my body that will keep me from being the best father I can be. So I got to study more,” Williams said. “But I also trust the people that we have in the league. Once they give us the information that we need, as it relates to taking the vaccine, if it’s something that I’m comfortable with, I’ll do it. But I haven’t received that yet. So it’s hard to make that assessment.”
A key NBA player tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, leaving him further educated on the virus and the time it takes to recover from it. Yet, Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner sounded apprehensive about the vaccine. “I’ve had the antibodies. We’re getting tested on the regular. So I’m doing whatever it takes to keep myself as safe as possible,” Turner said. “But as far as the vaccination, I personally don’t roll with the first round of things. I’d like to see how things roll out.”
“I’m a guy that don’t really take any vaccines. I try to stay away from a lot of medicine,” Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. “But I don’t really have an answer for that one right now. It’s a big thing going on with the news and obviously with the COVID situation. So I don’t want to say anything out of line. But for me personally, I’m a type of person that stays away from that kind of stuff.”
The prominent NBA coach has become increasingly impressed with the league's health and safety protocols to mitigate risk with the coronavirus. Therefore, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers sounded just as comfortable with taking a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. “Because I trust it. I’m not a conspiracist right now,” Rivers said. “Obviously you want it to be done right. You’re hoping that all the things that should have been done have been done by the FDA and everybody else. But I have no problem taking it.”
Sirius XM NBA: "Those last couple of months of the NBA season are going to be incredible." Mark Cuban tells Frank Isola & Brian Scalabrine he’s confident a vaccine will help get NBA arenas rocking by the spring.
As multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in the final stages of approval, reports have circulated about how the NBA plans to approach mandatory or voluntary vaccination for players, coaches and team and league employees. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, also the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, isn’t for a rigid requirement. But he talked before the Mavericks’ preseason opener Saturday about his personal willingness to receive the vaccine.
“The NBA will certainly research it thoroughly,” Carlisle said. “Coming off the success of [the 2019-20 season restart near] Orlando and all that, I don’t think there’s any reason to question the data that they come up with because they research everything very, very thoroughly.”
What the Warriors need now, besides time, is some help from the outside world. Cases in California leveling out would be ideal. The risk of creating a super-spreader event is too much for the city to allow thousands of fans in any building. And the questions now: Will the Warriors show that their plan is foolproof? Or will the city find a way to accept the risk before a vaccine becomes widespread enough to make it irrelevant? Stone’s optimistic thoughts point toward March. Some estimates have the vaccine reaching much of the general public a few months later. There could be a window between the two when the Warriors’ plan could be approved but before the vaccine fully arrives: the NBA playoffs.
Kyle Goon: Marc Gasol on COVID-19 vaccine: “I would prefer the vaccine goes to the people who need it the most instead of us, but that’s just common sense.” Question by @Brad Turner was only if he would take the vaccine. As far as I know, no push for players to get priority on vaccinations.
Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in final stages of approval, and the NBA could find itself as the first major professional North American sports league to manage widespread usage for players and coaches.
According to an array of discussions with league executives, team physicians and agents the league has been focusing on a few key areas: • A need to create an educational program for players and staff about vaccine choices, possible side effects and efficacy with the intent to put players at ease and be willing to take it. While this process is still in the earliest stages, some players have already begun expressing hesitation to their agents and team doctors about the vaccine, sources told ESPN. Educating the players about the measures taken to prevent the virus at the bubble in Orlando proved effective in fostering cooperation.
"I would guess that for most players, they will be willing to take it," said a prominent agent, who represents numerous players. "I think there will be a societal push for as many as possible to take it." Others feel it will be a harder sell. Among the issues, sources said, is numerous players who have had the virus -- and now have some level of antibodies -- may need to be convinced the vaccine is necessary. Between the season restart last summer and the start of this season's training camp, the NBA announced around 100 positive tests for players and staff. But that does not account for the numerous players and coaches who contracted the virus during the shutdown and in the offseason, only a few of whom have elected to publicly self identify.
"We are going to need someone they trust, who is not involved with the league, that can lay it out for the skeptical guys," said another agent who represents All-Stars. "Maybe it's someone like President Obama. To position this to the players as an opportunity to motivate others, which happened with masks."
The need to create a policy for how quickly the league will seek injections. Regardless of its resources, league officials know there are higher-risk populations that take priority including medical-care workers, nursing home residents, essential workers, and others. The NBA aims to respect whatever guidelines and criteria are enforced by the government and medical agencies concerning which populations will receive a vaccine early, sources said. With that said, league sources say the NBA doesn't plan to enforce any specific rules that would prohibit an individual from trying to obtain a vaccine if they wanted one while it's available. Even if that would mean some players and teams might get access to the vaccine earlier than peers who play and live in another city. League executives are already recognizing this type of policy could lead to a competitive balance issue at some point if some teams have the chance to be inoculated before others.
Numerous teams have close connections to top healthcare providers in their regions and the availability of shots could vary depending on the home state or region of the country. How distribution might play out is still being determined by local governments. The Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 6 that some health officials support early vaccination for professional athletes to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety in a high-profile manner.
Over the summer, the NBA was active in assisting with education and enrollment around vaccine trials. The league worked with partners at the National Urban League and UnidosUS to help spread awareness and solicit vaccine trial participants in underserved communities. Additionally, the league took a first step last week when its health and safety protocol were updated to include provisions about vaccines. In the guidance, the league told players it would work with the National Basketball Players Association about whether taking a vaccine would be required if it's proven safe. Or if not required, whether there would be separate protocols for players who were not inoculated.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”
Will Barton doesn’t think about what could’ve been in Denver anymore. Now about six weeks removed from his trade to Washington, Barton doesn’t dwell on departing a contending team or leaving a starting unit featuring the back-to-back MVP. “That time and that chapter is over with,” Barton told The Denver Post over Zoom. “I don’t think about what could’ve been, what happened. I’ll wait until my career ...
Serbia defeated Montenegro 82-73 in a game played without spectators. It was the first test for the Serbs with Nikola Jokic scoring 16 points, Vasilije Micic adding 13 and Nikola Milutinov 12 points. Nemanja Bjelica played but did not score. Marco Simonovic and Bojan Dubljevic scored 17 points for the losing side.
Because Jaylen Brown is now two years into his original four-year extension, he’s eligible this summer to sign an extension that is three years years in length. During the 2023 offseason, Brown would be able to add four years via Veteran Extension. Because he’s not currently on a Designated Rookie Extension, Brown isn’t eligible to extend for the maximum amount possible. (At least not yet. We’ll cover that next!). That means Brown is eligible to do a standard Veteran Extension. And therein lies the rub.