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Unvaccinated NBA players WILL be subjected to weekly COVID-19 testing this season

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The NBA continues to lift COVID-era restrictions on players, but those who haven’t been vaccinated will still need to be tested weekly, according to a new health and safety protocol released Tuesday.

While all symptomatic players should be tested, under the updated protocols, unvaccinated players will also undergo “surveillance testing once a week, except on days off or if they have recently recovered.” However, face masks are no longer necessary.

The NBA has never required vaccines for players, but it did adhere to local health guidelines, which resulted in unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving being sidelined for part of last season. Following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the league has reduced isolation periods over the course of the 2021-2022 campaign.

The NBA continues to lift restrictions on COVID-era players, but those who have not been vaccinated must still be tested weekly, under a new healthy sand safety protocol released Tuesday

The vast majority of NBA players have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the league consistently having a vaccination rate of about 95 percent under team rosters. However, there have been several notable holdouts, including Irving and Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.

Last month, Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins said he regretted getting vaccinated at the urging of the NBA, despite helping him win his first league title in June.

“I did and I was an All-Star and champion this year, so that was the good part, I didn’t miss the year, the best year of my career,” Wiggins told FanSided. “But for my body, I just don’t like putting all those things in my body, so I didn’t like that and I didn’t like that it wasn’t my choice. I didn’t like that it was ”play this or not.”’

The NBA didn’t require players to be vaccinated last season, but it did require players to adhere to local mandates, meaning Wiggins wouldn’t have been able to play home games in San Francisco had he not been vaccinated. In the end, he chose to have the shot, while others like Irving held out until New York City offered an exemption in March.

Wiggins applied for a religious waiver from the NBA but was rejected, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health added it would not consider any form of waiver.

Orlando Magic striker Jonathan Isaac

Brooklyn Nets Guard Kyrie Irving

The vast majority of NBA players have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the league consistently having a vaccination rate of about 95 percent under team rosters. However, there have been several notable holdouts, including Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (right) and Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac (left)

The Toronto native eventually relented and received the vaccine — the Johnson & Johnson single-dose injection — shortly before the start of the season. At the time, he said he was “forced” to get it.

Professionally, the decision turned out to be a good one. Not only did Wiggins keep his $32 million salary for the season, but he had his best season, averaging just north of 17 points per game, while making a career high of 39.3 percent on his attempts from three points.

After making his first All-Star roster in February, Wiggins helped the Warriors to an NBA Finals victory over the Boston Celtics, averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the six-game run.

The 27-year-old is entering the final season of his $147 million five-year deal and will earn $33.6 million this year.

While Wiggins was open and clear to fans about his objection to the vaccine, Irving caused controversy in New York over his refusal to be injected.

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins became All-Star and NBA champion this season after reluctantly getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but despite his career year, he says he regrets getting the shot at the urging of the league .  (Pictured: Wiggins at the Warriors' Title Parade

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins became All-Star and NBA champion this season after reluctantly getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but despite his career year, he says he regrets getting the shot at the urging of the league . (Pictured: Wiggins at the Warriors’ Title Parade

The seven-time All-Star played just 29 of 82 games this season due to a local New York City mandate, from which he was eventually waived, and the team’s decision to keep him out of the exhibition and road games, which the club reversed at the end of December.

After leaving the playoffs in the first round, Nets assistant coach and former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire admitted that Irving’s frequent absences had a significant impact on Brooklyn this year.

“Yeah, I think it hurt us,” Stoudemire, who has since left the Nets, told ESPN in May. “It definitely hurt us because with Kyrie we didn’t have enough consistency to build chemistry with the group, with the team.

“He only plays away games, depending on what city it is…can’t play in New York…so we had different formations, different encounters, depending on the schedule. So it made it hard for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play, despite Kyrie. So it was difficult for us to arrange that, so yes, it was part of that.’

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