The NBA is warning players unvaccinated for COVID-19 that they will not be paid for games they miss due to local executive orders governing requirements for shots.
"Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses," Mike Bass, the NBA's executive vice president of communications, said in a statement Wednesday morning.
The new rule, initially reported by ESPN, could pose problems for teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors because New York and San Francisco are among the cities requiring COVID-19 vaccines to enter those teams' basketball arenas.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets' home court, requires one coronavirus shot to enter. At the same time, San Francisco's Chase Center, where the Warriors play, mandates that only fully vaccinated people can enter.
On Friday, the NBA announced it had "reviewed and denied" Warriors player Andrew Wiggins’ request for a religious exemption and that he would not be able to play in Warriors home games until he meets San Francisco's vaccine mandate. The Warriors' first regular-season home game is scheduled for Oct. 21.
During the Warriors' media day on Monday, Wiggins told reporters that his vaccination status is "private" but acknowledged his "back is definitely against the wall."
"I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe," Wiggins said. "I’m going to keep fighting for what I believe is right. What’s right to one person isn’t right to the other and vice versa."
Wiggins' annual salary is $31.6 million.
Nets star Kyrie Irving, who makes about $34 million a year, was forced to participate in the team's media day at Barclays Center on Monday via Zoom as a result of the vaccine mandate in New York. However, he refused to discuss his vaccine status.
"That doesn't mean that I'm putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team," Irving, vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, said without elaborating.
The Nets home opener is scheduled for Oct. 24.
The vaccine mandates in San Francisco and Brooklyn only apply to players who compete in those markets, according to the NBA. Out-of-town players are exempt from executive orders.
The New York Knicks previously said its entire organization, including all players, is fully vaccinated and in compliance with the New York City law.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James publicly revealed on Tuesday that he got the vaccine.
"I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family and things of that nature," James told reporters. "I know that I was very (skeptical) about it all. But after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but for my family and my friends. And, you know, that’s why I decided to do it."
The NBA is set to tip-off its regular season on Oct. 19 and teams are expected to play a regular 82-game schedule for the first time since the 2018-2019 season.