NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday he would have preferred the NBA and National Basketball Players Association to agree on a vaccine mandate, in part to prevent it from becoming a “conflicting” issue for the league’s players. , as it is for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving.
“I will not try to speak for [the NBPA]”Besides the view that some players had, I think — including maybe some players who have been vaccinated — that it should be an individual choice of the players,” Silver said at his annual press conference for the season, which was pretty much held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would have preferred that the players’ association eventually agreed to mandatory vaccinations. The official union agreed to mandatory vaccinations despite the opposition of some of their members. But in the end I think we understand a lot of the hostile nature of these problems for our players. It’s not so much the competition, I think that in some cases it gets confused.”
“This is now between Irving and New York City,” he continued. “This is not a competition problem… but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player had been vaccinated.”
Irving is the only NBA player who will not be able to play as of Monday this season due to a vaccine mandate. New York City last month issued a mandate requiring everyone who attends a public gym, such as the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, to receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. San Francisco passed a similar law that went into effect last week, but required individuals to be fully vaccinated.
While Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins was eventually vaccinated, which allowed him to play, and the New York Knicks were fully vaccinated, Irving is the only Nets player who has decided not to get the vaccine, which is why he is ineligible to do so. play games at either Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden. It’s a decision that, if he sticks to it all season, could cost him nearly $20 million.
However, visiting players are exempt from the law, meaning Irving is the only one who cannot play as a result. Silver said he has heard nothing about the possibility of the New York vaccine mandate being relaxed at some point this season.
When asked if it’s “reasonable” that Irving can’t play while other unvaccinated players — including Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal — can play without a hitch, Silver said the question was wrong.
“I’m not sure fair is the right way to approach it because there’s nothing fair about this virus,” Silver said. “It’s arbitrary in terms of who it affects, and I think it’s perfectly fitting that New York and other cities have passed laws requiring people who both work and visit arenas to be vaccinated. That seems like a responsible public health decision.” to be passing through those locations, and those are the conditions the Nets are in.
“I accept that. I think as a league we understand that we have to play the cards that are dealt, just as there are differences from market to market. I know there are players in some markets who prefer their local governments are passing ordinances requiring all fans on their premises to be vaccinated.”
“We’ll see how it plays out,” he added. “I mean, honestly, I hope Kyrie — despite how strong he feels about the vaccination — eventually decides to get vaccinated, because I’d love to see him play basketball this season, and I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have all the players.” on the floor.”
Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated, in addition to comments from Beal and others about the vaccine, sparked a lot of comment on social media and elsewhere, prompting Silver to ask if he was concerned about it.
Silver said he was and that he has always encouraged players to express their views on things they believe in. But, he said, he doesn’t believe that a person’s personal opinion automatically becomes their right, citing Irving’s situation as an example.
“…I think sometimes that gets lost, that having an opinion about whether or not to vaccinate is different from your right to play NBA basketball,” Silver said. “We see that now in the New York market, for example, when there’s a conflict between a player’s position and the local law, and the local law is going to trump that player’s position.
“I’ve always tried to make sure players feel comfortable using this platform that the league provides them. I don’t mean literally the league. Just by being a famous NBA player, that they use it responsibly that they teach themselves about points of opinion, but they are also respected in return.”
“I hope that as far as players continue to express their views on a variety of topics, those views are respected,” Silver continued. “Again, that doesn’t mean the league will necessarily agree with them or the fans will, but that fans will respect them for doing so, as long as it doesn’t cross certain lines of vulgarity or hate speech… clearly some other categories where people shouldn’t go as representatives of this league.”
Silver said the NBA’s investigation into possible tampering by the Chicago Bulls in their sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball and the Miami Heat in their sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors for Kyle Lowry “was underway” .” He declined to provide a timeline for when that investigation would be completed.
“From a competition point of view, we’re just trying to create a level playing field,” said Silver. “We tried to reset two years ago and make that absolutely clear to our teams that in the future, as far as we could, we would strictly enforce these rules, and that’s what we’re dealing with now.”
On expansion, Silver said he hasn’t set foot in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, the renovated former Key Arena and home of the NHL expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. He added that expansion is not something the league will pursue until it is completely on the other side of the pandemic.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that at some point we’re going to take a very serious look at potential expansion,” said Silver, “and like I said before, Seattle is one of those cities that we’re keeping an eye on.” We’ve had a lot of success there in the past, and the fact that they now have a state-of-the-art arena back online only expands their prospects, but it’s premature to be more specific than that.”
Silver said it is “unclear” whether the NBA will return to state-run CCTV in China this season. The NBA has not aired any games since Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong two years ago this month.
Silver said again that he is in favor of adding a midseason tournament to the NBA schedule, but that most of the work will have to be done not only to create the format, but also to convince the players that it is the worth it.
“But we still have a lot of work to do and a lot to convince,” he said. “I know some players I’ve spoken to directly have trouble imagining the benefit of any other form of competition when they’re so focused on the Larry O’Brien Trophy and don’t necessarily see that we’re starting a new tradition.” can create.
“My response to that, especially since I’ve been in the league for so long now, is that these things take time. I think we’re in a position where we need to have a long-term view, looking at those changes in society around us and look at – and it’s the league office’s responsibility to look at these things in the future.”
Silver said he is “optimistic” that the NBA All-Star Game, scheduled for February in Cleveland, could be celebrated in an almost normal way this season as the league works to emerge from the other side of the pandemic. come. The league will announce its 75th anniversary team for both ESPN and TNT in the coming days, starting Tuesday night on TNT.
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