SF health officials: Exemption won't allow Warriors' Wiggins to play if unvaccinated

Michael Nowels and Laurence Miedema, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

Andrew Wiggins and the Warriors are facing a decision point. If he is unvaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 13, he will not be allowed to play in games at Chase Center until he becomes fully vaccinated.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health said Friday in a statement that its vaccine mandate will bar any unvaccinated person — patron or player — over the age of 12 from attending “large or mega indoor events” like Warriors games in the 18,064-seat arena. The NBA itself denied his request for a religious exemption Friday afternoon.

The league’s statement was direct, reading in part, “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”

Wiggins stated in March that he was not vaccinated and did not plan to receive the vaccine unless he was backed into a corner.

“I don’t really see myself getting it anytime soon unless I’m forced to somehow,” he told reporters in a news conference. “Other than that, I’m good.”

But the team’s ire if he misses 41 of the Warriors’ 82 games this year may be a force he cannot withstand, even if he is willing to forgo half of his game checks.

The forward has not declared recently whether he is still unvaccinated, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that the Warriors are concerned he will not be eligible to play.

The Warriors did not respond by press time to an email or call seeking comment for this story.

Wiggins, the first overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Cavaliers, spent his first full season with the Warriors in 2020-21 and was the team’s best perimeter defender with Klay Thompson out for a second straight season due to injury. While Steph Curry carried the Warriors by leading the league in scoring (32 points per game), Wiggins was second on the team with 18.6 points per game. He started 71 of the season’s 72 games, the most of any Golden State player.

That’s all in jeopardy now.


“Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption,” the San Francisco Department of Public Health said in a statement to this news organization. “This same rule applies to performers and players employed by the host at large and mega indoor events who are covered by the vaccination requirements of the Health Order.”

No other current Warrior has been as publicly declarative as Wiggins about not being vaccinated.

Training camps around the country are set to open this weekend and the NBA is not requiring players to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots, but local jurisdictions like this one will keep un-vaccinated players off the court in San Francisco and New York.

Wiggins was counting on a religious or medical exemption, though it is not clear what the basis would be for either claim. He’s far from alone.

NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts recently told Yahoo Sports that about 90% of the league’s players have been vaccinated. But that means about 70 players — about two per team — did not receive the shots.

Another big-name player who is believed to be resisting vaccination is the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who is subject to New York’s mandate.

San Francisco’s mandate, which went into effect Aug. 20, requires proof of vaccination for age 12 and up to enter any indoor event with 1,000 or more attendees. It appears the department of public health plans to treat the Warriors’ players and staff like they do the fans when it comes to that requirement. Staff covered by the requirement must be vaccinated by Oct. 13.

The Warriors’ first game after that date is an Oct. 15 preseason home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Their first regular-season game is in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Oct. 19, but they return to Chase Center two nights later to face the Clippers.

Wiggins’ presence there depends on how soon he gets the shot. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson is the only vaccine that can get someone fully inoculated within that four-week time frame. If he does not receive a dose by Oct. 7, he cannot play in the home opener.

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