NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is pushing back against the report that players forced to miss games due to local COVID-19 vaccine mandates won’t be paid for those games. According to Roberts, the Players Association never agreed to this measure, and since the league hasn’t mandated being vaccinated, players shouldn’t face fines for being unvaccinated.
“They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked [pay]. We did not agree,” Roberts said, via the New York Daily News. “The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see. … Right now, we’ve agreed that if a player breaks protocols, he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp. But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”
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NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the following last month: “Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses.” Clearly, the league and the NBPA are not currently on the same page regarding this issue, but it’s something the two sides will have to iron out in short order as the regular season is set to start in a matter of weeks.
Roberts went on to explain that while the NBPA was against a vaccine mandate, the goal remains for the players to ultimately reach a 100 percent vaccine rate. The league currently has around 95 percent of its players vaccinated.
“We were against mandatory vaccination because the union’s membership appreciated that, given all the information, that players would make the best decision for them,” Roberts said. “And 95/96% said, ‘I want to be vaccinated.’ We’re still working towards 100%. But the members voted that it would not be mandatory.
“Now we’re feeling pretty good about the safety of the vaccine, but there was a time when many people, including myself, were skeptical. And people make fun of the players who say they want to do my research. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what I expect anyone would do. We’re doing a lot better than anybody else in this country. So I reject any criticism. We’re doing better than companies who are mandatory vaccinations because we’re at 95-96%. One hundred percent is still an aspiration.”