The Orlando Magic are offering the coronavirus vaccine to as many as 2,300 Central Florida residents next week, becoming the latest NBA team to host such an event. The Magic partnered with AdventHealth and city officials to arrange the May 13 event at Amway Center, the team’s home arena. The Moderna vaccine will be available, free of charge, to anyone 18 or older.
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Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee said he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Lee, 28, is considered one of the rare “breakthrough cases” — one of only 6,000 or so people who have tested positive for the virus after going through the full vaccination process, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I did test positive for COVID about two weeks ago,” Lee said prior to Thursday night’s 118-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I did get the vaccine the middle, end of March, but essentially this was just a rare breakthrough case. … Right now, there’s no timeline in the immediate future for me coming back and playing.”
“I had headache, chills, sneezing, congestion, soreness, body aches,” Lee said while reading a list off his phone to keep track of everything he dealt with. “It felt like I was hit by a car. Like hit by two cars at once every step I took. It hurt, it was pain, soreness. It felt like there was a weight on my chest for a couple of days, like it was just hard to breathe.”
Keith Smith: Evan Fournier said he got his first COVID vaccine shot yesterday. He said he’s heard some people who had COVID feel better after getting their vaccine. He’s hopeful he’ll experience that as well.
Bill Oram: AD on players getting vaccinated: “Some guys did, some guys didn’t for their own personal reasons. I decided to for my own personal reasons. … I’m trying to play my part and get 20,000 back in Staples so we can some more cheers in there than we have now.”
Almost the entire team of the NBA champion has already received an injection: “Except, I think LeBron James is not vaccinated and myself,” said Schröder.
Kyle Goon: Frank Vogel says the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine have been laid out for Lakers players and staff, including relaxed standards once they reach the 85 percent threshold of vaccination. But ultimately he says the Lakers support the decisions players make w/ their bodies
The Jump: “Teams are gonna recommend players to get the one shot vaccination” —MacMullan #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump
Darnell Mayberry: Bulls players received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 on Thursday, according to team sources. The vaccination could explain the late scratches tonight for Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen and center Cristiano Felicio due to illness.
Sarah Todd: From the Jazz: number of fans at Vivint will increase to 6700 and a limited number of Courtside seats will be available for those who are fully vaccinated and pass a rapid COVID 19 test. Masks and distancing are still required at all games
Malika Andrews: Pretty cool: The Milwaukee Bucks are offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible fans 16+ who are attending the game against the Nets on Sunday (on ABC) at Fiserv Forum, the team says. Bucks President Peter Feigin: “We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated…”
Can you share what percentage of NBA players have been vaccinated? Adam Silver: More than 70% of our players have received at least one shot.
On Saturday night, Clifford sounded more concerned that basketball fans might hear the news about his positive test and mistakenly conclude that vaccines are not effective or worth getting. Indeed, Clifford was not fully vaccinated when he likely was exposed to the virus. But he added that, if the tests were not false positives, he hopes the initial vaccine will make it less likely he develops COVID-19 symptoms. “I just don’t understand why anybody would be against the vaccination,” Clifford said. “I think that the more people that do it in our country, it’s better for all of us.”
The Miami Heat are on pace to meet the NBA’s threshold for team coronavirus vaccination coverage by the start of May, which should ease the team’s maneuvering through the league’s pandemic protocols for the final stages of the playoff race. A team is considered at the threshold when 85 percent of all players and all staff have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and have gone through the ensuing period needed for the vaccination to take full effect.
John Karalis: Danny Ainge on Toucher and Rich said the team has not reached the 85% of vaccinations necessary to loosen some of the restrictions by the NBA. Ainge says the Celtics are not an outlier in this, and many teams are struggling to get to that threshold.
Basketball Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal joined former president Barack Obama on an NBC special Sunday night to encourage Americans to get COVID-19 vaccines. The former NBA players — who have remained highly visible through their roles as analysts for “Inside the NBA” on TNT — exchanged humorous barbs and briefly spoke with O’Neal’s mother before Obama joined them. “So I’m playing Kenny the Jet,” Obama joked when he joined the duo, in reference to Kenny Smith, who is an analyst alongside Barkley and O’Neal on “Inside the NBA.”
“Now, as the vaccine becomes more available, I want to make sure that our communities, particularly ones — African American, Latino — as well as young people understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal,” Obama added. “The sooner we get more people vaccinated the better off we’re going to be.” Barkley said he’s on the verge of getting his second vaccine shot, and O’Neal said he’s been vaccinated, along with family members with underlying conditions. “But I’m not worried about me or my family. I’m worried about the average mom and dad,” O’Neal said.
The Kings held a media walkthrough Friday to demonstrate the new fan experience as the team prepares to open its doors for the first time in more than a year. Only those who are fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be allowed to attend games for now, but it’s a start for a franchise that has incurred huge financial losses due to the pandemic.
Under red-tier restrictions, the Kings can admit up to about 3,500 fans, but all ticketholders must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test completed within 72 hours of the event. The Kings said they are partnering with a testing facility in West Sacramento that will offer day-of-game testing at a discounted price for anyone with a ticket.
Magic Johnson: I’m fully vaccinated! I’m so excited I got my second shot. Cookie and I are now fully vaccinated and my son EJ got his first shot today! pic.twitter.com/9Rz7PukCJ8
The exact number is not known. Getting the vaccine is a personal choice. The organization did not make it mandatory. Not all of the players agreed to it. But a source said a “fair amount of players” received the one-time Johnson and Johnson shot. There are currently 15 guys on the roster, including Lamar Stevens and Brodric Thomas, both of whom are currently on two-way contracts. “It was a great turnout,” a source said.
Because it was Johnson and Johnson, members of the organization who received the vaccine during that rollout will not need a second dose. According to a source, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff, 42, received his vaccine earlier, prior to knowing it would be available to the entire team on March 30. Bickerstaff had the first dose of Moderna. His second shot is scheduled for Monday, April 12 — a team off day following a weekend back-to-back and before the Cavaliers travel to Charlotte for a one-off road game, sources say.
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge tells @Toucherandrich that the Celtics have been trying to get something set up for the team to get vaccinated. Ainge: “Mike Zarren has been on the phone a lot”
Less than a week after DeAndre’ Bembry was deemed eligible to exit the NBA’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, the 26-year-old guard took to Instagram to post a video of him getting what appears to be the COVID-19 vaccine. Bembry is the first known member of the organization to post about the vaccine. He spent about a week in COVID-19 quarantine in late March, presumably after being a close contact of a COVID-19 case.
Darnell Mayberry: Before embarking on a season-long, five-game road trip, Chicago Bulls players received the COVID-19 vaccine, sources told The Athletic. theathletic.com/2504521/2021/0…
Karl-Anthony Towns: Shot 1 ✅ pic.twitter.com/LQfB6SrH0k
Mark Followill: Rick Carlisle just announced he had an unexpected positive test for COVID. He said he’s been fully vaccinated since January & is hopeful it is a false positive. He has been re-tested & is currently at the team hotel. If he is unable to be at the game, Jamahl Mosely will be coach
For larger-capacity venues, testing or proof of vaccination would be required and capacity limited to 20% in the red tier. The threshold would be 10%, or 2,000 people, in the orange tier — and could increase further to 35% if all attendees are tested or show proof of full vaccination.
Despite the Herculean efforts of the NBA and the NBPA, the league is encountering a variety of problems in trying to get everyone in the league vaccinated against COVID-19. The teams having the most difficulty getting vaccinations include the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers, BasketballNews.com has learned. Numerous league sources described the situation as an ongoing, daily dilemma in which they are fighting against misinformation, historical truths about government abuse of vaccination programs in Black communities and logistical complications based upon different vaccination qualification rules in different states.
With the United States entering what the government is calling the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 infections, the slow return to normalcy is proving difficult in both the NBA and society at large. A league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said teams have been instructed by the league office that they cannot jump the line to get members of their organizations vaccinated, and nobody will be forced to be vaccinated against their will. But at the same time, extraordinary efforts are being made to educate players and team personnel about the merits of vaccination.
One source said that one of the most difficult tasks has been dispelling myths being perpetuated by anti-vaccine advocates whose information is being re-reported by some mainstream media companies and spreading on social media and online forums. Privately, players have expressed that they are hesitant to get the vaccine due to systemic distrust in the U.S. government, in large part due to the infamous “Tuskegee Experiment,” league sources told BasketballNews.com.
For James in particular, outwardly stating that he received a vaccine, or planned to, would be the greatest thing he has ever done. Greater than any made basket, any championship won, any school opened or voting rights campaign spearheaded. “I think the opinions and actions of trusted sports icons could make a difference in encouraging their fans to get the vaccine,” Cheryl B. Prince, a retired epidemiologist who worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1980 to 2019, told The Undefeated.
Enes Kanter: Wow Just found out that my uncle in Turkey which I haven’t seen in 8 years, just passed away cause of COVID. Pray for him! Please take the vaccine seriously, It saves you & your loved ones Because of @RTErdogan, I can’t even pay proper respect to my uncle Screw you @RTErdogan
Such as the COVID-19 vaccines, which some NBA athletes are opposed to taking. “No sir,” Warriors wing Kent Bazemore said Wednesday in a video conference with reporters.
Bazemore considers his decision “a lifestyle thing,” as he is not keen on making allowances. “I do everything I can to strengthen my immune system, with hours upon hours of cooking, preparing my meals at home, really being conscious of what I put in my body and taking care of my health,” he said. “My family has a history of heart disease and all these different things, and I’m trying to turn that around for my lineage. So, I’m taking it upon myself to do everything I can to keep my immune system strong and live a healthy and long life.”
Monte Poole: The Warriors, amid trade deadline madness, have joined those NBA teams to go through the COVID vaccination process, per multiple league sources. Not every player, obviously.
Magic Johnson: Today I got my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. I’m so excited to have taken one of the final steps to protect myself and my family from COVID-19!
Johnson said “it is so important I have been doing everything the right way. Wearing my mask, cleaning my hands all the time.” “Now the most important thing is to get this vaccine to ease my mind and I have done all my research and homework and consulted my doctors and I want to do it for me and for my family but also for my community, too, at the same time,” he said adding he “can’t wait” to get his shot.
Baxter Holmes: The NBA is investigating possibly coordinating with national pharmacy chains to “to host on-site vaccination clinics for players, team and arena personnel, and household members at team facilities and arenas in the coming weeks,” according to a league memo sent out today.
Members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization are expected to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 this week, sources told ESPN. It was not clear which players or staffers were planning to receive the vaccine as HIPAA regulations preclude anyone from the team from commenting on the situation.
Casey Holdahl: Terry Stotts says has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this month, when given a chance to get the coronavirus vaccine, Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli didn’t hesitate. Melli had watched for more than a year as the coronavirus ripped through his home country of Italy, where during the first wave hospitals became overwhelmed, and where the death toll from the virus has now surpassed 105,000. “I believe we have to trust science,” Melli said. “Otherwise, what are we doing here? I took it. I felt comfortable with it. I felt good. Hopefully, all of my family in Italy will get it, so when I go back home, I can be with them, hug them, kiss them and go slowly back to normal life. This is not normal.”
Before the season, Melli said he planned to “run away from the virus.” That meant when he was not playing basketball, he would hole up in his apartment or in a hotel room if the Pelicans were on the road. Melli said he has done just that. But the mental toll of not being around people outside of work hasn’t been easy. “I have no social life,” Melli said. “I don’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant. I’m tired of taking the delivery at home. It’s not the same thing. I have no social life. But this is the right thing. Personally, to me this is the right thing to do.”
Melli said is looking forward to returning home to Italy this summer, where he hopefully will be able to spend time with loved ones. Melli is close with his grandmother, who spent close to 90 days in isolation during the worst stages of the pandemic. “I cannot wait,” Melli said. “I miss it. I missed kissing my grandmother last summer. I miss hugging my parents for real last summer. I miss seeing my friends also. I didn’t see my friends last summer when I went back home. This is not normal. We are getting used to it.”
Omari Sanfoka II: Dwane Casey said he caught COVID-19 around the time Christian Wood had it, and the team didn’t publicize it. Didn’t have any strong symptoms. He’s fully vaccinated now
Aaron Rose: Nick Nurse says he will be looking at getting vaccinated when he gets back to Florida. The state is now vaccinating 50 year olds.
Jusuf Nurkic: I got my vaccine 💉 today. I can’t live in fear of infecting someone else and the people I love. The best protection is vaccine and the fastest way to get back to normal. #HaveYourOpinion #MakeYourMove pic.twitter.com/qpbZFUT6cR
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is optimistic that his team can start getting the coronavirus vaccine soon. “I think we’ve all been very careful about not jumping in front of the line, in front of people who really desperately need (the vaccines) and who are eligible for them,” Kerr said before Saturday night’s game against the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. “Hopefully we are getting to the point where there are going to be vaccines available for everybody to see.”
Some teams, including the Hawks, have started getting vaccinated. Kerr said he considered taking the Warriors into nearby Mississippi — where vaccines are more easily obtainable — on their Memphis trip, but that “wasn’t something we actually executed.”
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he hasn’t read the entire memo from the NBA headquarters. He added that the Mavs won’t forced their players to get the COVID-19 vaccination. “But my understanding is that the restrictions are easing up slightly because people are becoming vaccinated, which is a great thing,” Carlisle said. “I don’t have details, league-wide, as to which teams have been vaccinated and which haven’t. In terms of our players, vaccination is certainly going to be their choice. It’s not something that will be required. My feeling is it will be encouraged, but it’s going to be their choice alone. They won’t be forced to do it.”
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts is excited that the NBA has taken this stance to relax some of the rules and trying to give the players, coaches and staff a bit more freedom. “I think it’s a great motivation to get everybody vaccinated, and to me that’s paramount, obviously,” Stotts. “And it should be good motivation to get vaccinated. But I look forward to that day when we are able to take advantage of all those things that are being loosen up.”
Harrison Wind: Michael Malone says he hasn’t had in-depth conversations with his players about getting the vaccine: “At some point if we’re able to get the vaccine, obviously I think that would be tremendous. I also respect the fact that it is a personal decision that everybody has to make.”
Sarah K. Spencer: 36 members of the Hawks basketball operations staff have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 14 players. All are eligible to receive it in Georgia. The only 3 players who did not get vaccinated are not eligible yet.
Ian Begley: NBA announces that the league & NBPA have agreed to changes to the Health & Safety Protocols for any person who is 2 weeks past their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There are also changes for any team where 85% of players & 85% of staff are fully-vaccinated. Details here: pic.twitter.com/3F78pCFmmv
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA, NBPA have agreed to new protocols for COVID-19 vaccinated individuals: – No quarantine for exposure – No PCR tests on days off – Interact with any other person at home (not at bar, club, lounge) – Go to outdoor restaurants – Four guests on road without prior testing
In terms of players outside the Pelicans, league sources said that only a small number of players have so far received a vaccine dose and that those who did so have preexisting conditions.
Michael Singer: Asked Malone whether the NBA has incentivized players getting the vaccine. “To my knowledge, no. … Right now, myself and all of our players get tested three times a day. I think you’d probably have a lot more people willing to get the vaccine if that number went from 3 to 1.”
Tim MacMahon: The Mavs are awaiting approval from the NBA office before moving forward on plans for players and staff to get vaccinated, a source told ESPN.
Sources told ESPN that while the majority of players on the Pelicans who were eligible received the shot, not every player did. Pelicans reserve guard Sindarius Thornwell became the first player to publicly acknowledge his intent to get the vaccine with a tweet late Friday night.
The Pelicans worked with Ochsner Medical Center to get eligible member of the organization their first shot — if they chose to receive it. “The three COVID vaccines we have are safe and effective and everyone who qualifies should get the shot as soon as they can,” said Christina Edwards, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications for Gov. Edwards, in a statement to ESPN. “People, like members of the Pelicans, can consult with their doctors about if they might qualify because of their health conditions.”
“League policy requires teams to follow their state’s vaccination guidelines and programs and we are fully supportive of players and team staff being vaccinated when they are eligible,” an NBA spokesperson said in a statement. Around the league, some coaches have begun to probe performance staff and team doctors, asking them when a vaccine will become available. At least one team intends to put together vaccine programs for staff and players, but that could still be weeks away.
The Pelicans received their vaccines through a partnership with a local hospital and in consultation with team doctors and officials. On Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing anyone 16 or older with a health condition that may result in a higher risk of disease to get the vaccine.
One of the 12 conditions is being overweight, which is defined as someone having a body mass index of over 25, a criteria that many NBA players hit despite being professional athletes. Anyone in the state with conditions like asthma, hypertension and Type 1 diabetes are also now eligible.
Q: It’s a year later, we have three vaccines now. Do you feel like you’d have to incentivize athletes in taking the vaccine, let alone getting them to be public about it? NBA head doctor Leroy Sims: I think the most important thing that I can do as a physician is to educate my patients, educate the public, and that is the campaign that we’re on with the players. I want to make sure that they have the information that they need to make an informed decision. And that information has to be credible. And that’s where I come in and give them the information from the clinical trials, try to break down how the vaccines work, kind of dispel myths, but also the message has to be credible about the messenger, as well. And that’s where I come in and doing these presentations to the teams, each team I presented for half an hour or so. And being able to give them that information, hopefully be a trusted source, but then answer their questions. And the process of informed decision-making and informed consent in medicine involves telling people about the risks, the benefits, and any alternatives that are there. And so when we talk about the risks, we talk both about the risks associated with the vaccine — very small — but also the risks associated with the virus — a lot higher.
NBA head doctor Leroy Sims: So that’s my approach is to arm our players, our organization with the information that they need to make an informed decision. Then when you talk about incentives of vaccination, I think that’s a conversation, too. And that’s my last slide when I talk about what are the potential benefits, the realistic benefits personally into the community, but also in the larger context. But I think that also breaks for me along medical lines because you see that vaccination allows people certain freedoms. And we take our cues from the CDC there. And so I again reflect medically on what the positives come as a result of vaccination. I don’t feel like I necessarily, as a doctor who’s advising them, needs to dangle a carrot. I think I need to give them the information that they need to make a great decision.
Bob Cousy, who won six NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, is old friends with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the preeminent scientist in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. About two hours before getting the news about the vaccine, Cousy had spoken to Fauci on the phone. When asked if Fauci played a part in getting him the vaccine, Cousy was his usual straight-talking, self-effacing self: “Tony is busy saving the freakin’ world every day,” Cousy told The Palm Beach Post. “I can’t imagine.”
Cousy, who has lived in West Palm Beach for 35 years but this winter remained at his home in Worcester, Mass., said the only time the vaccine came up in their conversation was when Fauci asked if he had received it. Cousy told him he had not but he was not worried about it and his daughter was working on it. “I wasn’t concerned but I simply answered his question and that was the extent of it,” Cousy said. “He didn’t say anything further.”
“For the last 30 years, on a few occasions when I was being interviewed, sometimes people would say, ‘Who are your heroes?’ ” Cousy said. “I would say Dr. Anthony Fauci and they’d look at me like, ‘what the hell is a Dr. Anthony Fauci?’ Well, now the whole world knows who Dr. Anthony Fauci is.”
In other words, had Embiid and Simmons been vaccinated, their close contact with their COVID-19-positive barber would not have mattered. They could have played Sunday. 12. Except, it doesn’t sound like the players have warmed to that idea, either. 13. “That’s a conversation that my family and I will have, and pretty much probably keep that to a private thing,” James said.
76ers coach Doc Rivers said he would take the vaccine. “I’m a Black man that needs to say that because I think it’s important,” Rivers said. “We have a history with vaccines that aren’t very positive in this country.”
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May 7, 2021 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Bobby Karalla: Luka Doncic just scored his 5,000th career point. He’s the fastest active player to reach 5K, doing so in 194 games. He’s also the fourth-youngest player in NBA history (22 years, 68 days), behind only LeBron, KD, and Melo.
Brian Seltzer: Never a doubt. @sixers overcome a 7-point deficit in the final 8 minutes to pull out a 109-107 win. Their magic number is now 3, and they extend their winning streak to a season-best 7 in a row.
May 7, 2021 | 8:53 pm EDT Update
Tom Orsborn: Pop on what it’s been like with Spurs having to use so many different lineups, rotations, etc., this season: “Chaotic, I guess is the best word. But you deal with what is dealt, so that’s just the way it’s been.”
Tom Orsborn: Pop, turning to an oldie but a goodie when asked what stands out for him about the surging Kings when “he’s looked” at them lately: “I haven’t watched them play. It’s not like we are, you know, 45-0 and I have time to worry about somebody else’s team.”
Bill Oram: Frank Vogel said: “I’m unafraid of the play-in tournament with this team, I feel that we can beat anybody.” BUT he says the Lakers still want to finish in the top-6. Too many variables otherwise. Says any silver lining of getting extra games in play-in is “minimal.”