Covid-19

FAQ: How NBA teams are impacted by city-imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Ahead of the 2021-22 season, here's what you need to know about how COVID-19 and vaccine protocols might impact the NBA and its players.

Can unvaccinated players play in NBA games in the 2021-22 season?

The NBA hasn't issued a vaccine mandate.

In a statement to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, league spokesman Mike Bass said that the league has made proposals for a vaccine mandate but the players' union has rejected "any vaccination requirement."

On Oct. 6, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Athletic's Kavitha Davidson that 96 percent of NBA players are vaccinated. A memo obtained by ESPN shows that unvaccinated players will face much stricter protocols than vaccinated players during the season.

The NBA announced that it had reached an agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association requiring vaccinations for all referees working NBA games during the 2021-22 season. Additionally, Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps reported on Aug. 27 that "all personnel under team control who work within 15 feet of players or referees during games" for this season will be required to be fully vaccinated. According to Charania, that includes coaching and medical staff.

Which teams are dealing with city-imposed vaccination mandates?

Since Aug. 17, people above the age of 12 in New York City have been required to show proof that they've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment, which includes professional sports arenas unless there is an approved medical or religious exemption.

Athletes were previously excluded from the mandate, but Mayor Bill de Blasio recently issued an Emergency Executive Order which now requires New York City-based athletes to be vaccinated, impacting players on the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.

A similar mandate will go into effect in San Francisco on Oct. 13, which will impact the Golden State Warriors. Same for Los Angeles on Nov. 29, which will impact the Lakers and LA Clippers.

How do the city-imposed mandates affect visiting teams?

In New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, out-of-town teams are exempt from the vaccination mandates, meaning unvaccinated players on opposing teams will be allowed to play at Madison Square Garden (Knicks), Barclays Center (Nets), the Chase Center (Warriors) and STAPLES Center (Lakers, Clippers) this season.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic explained, "because they are not employees of a company that is under the city's limits, the rules don't currently apply."

Are the Knicks, Nets, Warriors, Clippers and Lakers fully vaccinated?

Knicks general manager Scott Perry said that the organization, including players, is fully vaccinated.

Nets general manager Sean Marks indicated ahead of Media Day that not everyone on the team was fully vaccinated.

"Regarding if they could play today, I can't comment on who could play and so forth," Marks said. "There would obviously be a couple people missing from that picture.

"I won't get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth."

As for the Warriors, the NBA announced that it had "reviewed and denied" Andrew Wiggins' request for a religious exemption of the COVID-19 vaccination, but Wiggins has since been vaccinated.

Head coach Tyronn Lue said the Clippers are fully vaccinated.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that everyone currently on the roster will be deemed fully vaccinated by opening night.

What's at stake for unvaccinated players in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles?

A report from The Athletic's Shams Charania indicates that unvaccinated players are prohibited from entering "home arenas or facilities for games or team activities."

Additionally, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said "any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses."

Will unvaccinated players be allowed to play in Toronto?

Michael Grange of Sportsnet reported that unvaccinated players can enter Toronto and play against the Raptors "subject to testing and staying at hotel/arena."

The Athletic's Shams Charania, meanwhile, reported that "unvaccinated players who breach quarantine in Toronto face criminal offense."

The Raptors played their home games in Tampa during the 2020-21 season because the U.S.-Canada border was closed to almost all non-essential crossings. Ahead of the 2021-22 season, the Raptors have received approval to play their home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

Anthony Davis, LeBron James
Lakers Big 3 'very frustrated' after 3OT loss
Yash Matange
Phoenix Suns
By the Numbers: Suns' 15-game win streak
Yash Matange
Warriors
Warriors dismantling opponents in 3rd quarters
Yash Matange
Gordon Hayward, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr (Charlotte Hornets)
Hornets continue surge, win 5th straight at home
Nick Metallinos
Ja Morant
Latest on Ja Morant's knee injury
Yash Matange
Gary Trent Jr.
Latest on Gary Trent Jr.'s injury
Yash Matange
More News