SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that could be the first step in the potentially glorious resurgence of the Golden State Warriors, the most anticipated interview of 2021 Media Day had little to do with basketball. Andrew Wiggins, whose reported unvaccinated status could prevent him from playing in home games this season in accordance with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events, shielded himself from questions for 10 minutes on Monday, refusing to expressly clarify his stance on getting the vaccine.
Wiggins, whose request for a religious exemption to the NBA‘s vaccination policies was recently denied, decided to keep both his status and views on the vaccine “private” for the time being, but did provide some insight into his thoughts on the topic.
“I’m confident in my beliefs and what I think is right and what I think is wrong,” Wiggins said. “I’m gonna keep doing what I believe. … What’s right for one person isn’t right for another. It’s none of your business is what it comes down to. I don’t ask you guys what you believe is right or wrong.”
The tension continued to mount as Wiggins was peppered with questions, and he eventually suggested that “the media” has blown his vaccination situation out of proportion.
“I’ll say something when I’m ready,” Wiggins said. “The only thing the media has done is make it bigger than it has to be. I’ll say my side of everything when I’m ready.”
This is obviously a contentious issue not only from a humanitarian perspective, in terms of potential harm to teammates and their families, but also in terms of basketball. If Wiggins refused to get vaccinated, he could potentially miss all 41 Warriors home games this season, which would be a huge blow on Golden State’s road back to the playoffs.
Wiggins’ teammates largely took a diplomatic approach when asked about the situation. Here’s a look at what the Warriors had to say about Wiggins’ vaccination status on Monday.
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“At the end of the day, it is up to him. It’s no secret to that point. We obviously hope that he has all the right information, the access to the right resources to ask all the questions he has on making that decision,” Curry said. “We hope he’s available. We hope he moves in the right direction.
“My opinion is, obviously I got [vaccinated] and am ready to be available and following the mandates and what not. But that’s kind of where it is, and in the next coming weeks and how it all plays out is gonna be entirely up to him. We obviously hope he’s available and with us, and kind of go from there. It’s difficult. Everybody’s in a difficult position in that respect, and we’ve all made decisions you feel are right for you and your family and whatever the case is. This is no different, and whether you agree with him or not, you have to let it play out.”
“I think we all have to do our homework a little bit better. That’s for all of us,” Iguodala said. “I’ve been upset reading about Andrew Wiggins because it’s painting the wrong picture. We’re in a day and age now where perception can become reality. And the perception that’s going on about him is hurting his value and ultimately can affect the wealth that he accumulates, which is totally unfair.
“If you do your homework the way it should be done, you understand there’s people who have an excuse and there’s people who have actual values. He’s a guy that has values, and he’s the type of guy I’ll stand by. He’s the type of guy I’ll risk being around the situation. I’m vaccinated and I have an understanding about this, and he has a different understanding, but his understanding is something that I truly respect, and I have a value for how he sees life. He’s the type of guy that I support the whole way. Hopefully we can find a solution.”
Head coach Steve Kerr
“I haven’t spent any time thinking about that. Nor will I,” Kerr said. “We’ll just see how everything plays out. We’re hopeful that it’s all resolved over the next couple of weeks. We’re going into tomorrow with a plan to have everyone out on the floor and ready to roll.”
“I support him. He’s a grown man and he knows the decision, what’s best for him,” Poole said. “I’m gonna rock with whatever decision he makes — not only as a teammate, but as a friend. Especially in the small brotherhood that we have in the NBA. I’ll support him.”
President of basketball operations Bob Myers
“We’re optimistic that we’ll have our full complement of players,” Myers said of the Wiggins situation. “We’ll just leave that at that.”
If Wiggins is unvaccinated, which it certainly sounds like he is, the clock is ticking if he wants to be ready for the Warriors’ home opener against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 21. The San Francisco order requires full vaccination for large indoor events, with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each requiring a waiting period between the first and second shot.