Portland Trail Blazers Live Up to Their Name, Lead NBA With a 100% Team Vaccination Rate
Throughout the NBA, some star players are spouting off misinformation echoing the Trump administration’s attempts to downplay the virus and cast doubt on the vaccinations that were only available after Joe Biden took office.
Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, and Andrew Wiggins have all made their anti-vaccination stances public, impacting their ability to play in cities with strict vaccine mandates. Irving and Wiggins, due to New York City and San Francisco mandates, will not be able to play home games if they aren’t vaccinated. Beal contracted COVID-19 in the past few months and thankfully recovered, but the experience only strengthened his resolve to remain unvaccinated, as Washington, D.C., has no such mandate in place.
The conundrum that teams’ employees face—risk COVID exposure or reconsider their employment options—is especially poignant given the salary discrepancies between typical staff members and the players. Multimillionaires with access to unparalleled medical treatment disregarding the risks that support staff face while ICUs around the country brush up against capacity is an awful look for the NBA. The 10% of NBA players who are choosing not to get the anti-COVID jab have been allowed to dictate league policy, reportedly rendering an outright vaccine mandate a nonstarter in ongoing policy negotiations between the NBA and the players’ union. This stands in stark contrast to the WNBA, which reached 99% vaccination largely via a push from the players’ union.
"It's not ideal."
Steph Curry speaks on Andrew Wiggins potentially missing half of the season if he doesn't get vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/xWO0PxpIug
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 28, 2021
But elsewhere in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers are quietly setting the standard for the league. Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey confirmed at the team’s annual media day on September 27th that the entire roster and basketball operations staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Among NBA teams, the Blazers have been at the forefront of COVID vaccination progress. In March, the Blazers announced that 13 of 15 players received shots from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Today’s confirmation of 100% vaccination closes the loop, confirming that players added to the roster this summer are also vaccinated.
We all know someone like Kyrie… the guy who thinks he's cracked the secrets of the universe through YouTube videos & Google searches. It doesn't make him interesting or some thought leader. pic.twitter.com/AZhJrowBCg
— nick wright (@getnickwright) September 28, 2021
They presented the opportunity, and I said, ‘Can I bring my family, too?” said Olympic gold medalist Damian Lillard at Monday’s press event. “And they said, ‘Yeah.’ And that was it… I’ve had people in my family actually die, and people actually lose their lives to it. And [vaccination] is a way for me to protect myself and the people that I love—I’m gonna do it.”
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) September 28, 2021
In addition to Olshey’s confirmation that the basketball operations staff is vaccinated, Blazers staffer Casey Holdahl suggested on Twitter that the team has required vaccination for all employees.
It generally means people who work at the facility in Tualatin, but I can tell you as an employee that unless you have an exemption, you have to be vaccinated or it's considered your resignation
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) September 27, 2021