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NBA In ‘Next Big Fight’ Over Covid-19 Vaccinations

Eighteen months after leading the way in Covid-19 protocol, and racial issues, the NBA has a predicament on its hands.

The pandemic, sport and racial justice have been inextricably linked since the first round of lockdowns. The NBA played it’s 2020 postseason in a quarantined facility from which a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement was triggered on a global scale.

The league deserves credit for emerging from that fearful, polarizing period with its head held high. However, on the cusp of playing in front of capacity crowds again, a storm is on the horizon. 


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The reason? Vaccinations. There are divides within locker rooms between players who are pro vaccination and players who aren’t.

There are divides within markets between areas that mandate compulsory vaccination, like New York, and markets that don’t.

One high profile vaccination skeptic, Kyrie Irving, is contemplating missing Nets home games to protest the New York mandate.

The U.S has a history of exploiting minority communities medically. The previously existing suspicion is fertile ground for conspiratorial, anti-vaccination hysteria.

A force that united the NBA over a year ago now has the potential to be controversial and disruptive. 

Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, says the bubbling tension is ‘going to be ugly’.


Read: Clippers Dealing With Vaccine Issues, Kawhi Absence Ahead Of New Season


“It’s going to be the next big fight. You are going to have the NBA  saying ‘players have to be vaxxed’, you’ll have the Union calling for that not to be the case.

“It’s confusing, it’s not good for the league, not good for the players, not good for the Union. To me, I don’t blame the players as much as I blame that we live in a country that has no culture of public health, scant culture of solidarity, and we’re suffering for it.

“We have already been suffering for it, but now it’s going to be writ large on one of the most important pop cultural institutions we have.”

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