NBA Denies Andrew Wiggins Religious Exemption From COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

Image Credit: Andrew Wiggins Twitter

As the Golden State Warriors prepare for their five-game preseason schedule, Andrew Wiggins has a problem back home in San Francisco.

After requesting a religious exemption not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the NBA has denied Andrew Wiggins’ request.

“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.

“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”

Professional Athletic Anti-Vax Realities

The small forward’s stance on the vaccine is problematic for Wiggins to perform at home games. San Francisco is one of two American cities that require persons to be vaccinated to attend indoor events.

The Golden State Warriors now play in the Chase Center in San Francisco. They formerly played in Oakland at the Oracle Arena.

The NBA announced its ruling on Friday.

By contrast, the New York Knicks announced the complete vaccination of their entire roster. The team is now in full athletic compliance with New York City’s indoor vaccine.

All Knicks players are now eligible to play in their home games.

Three teams will have the more stringent protocols in the NBA: the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Golden State Warriors. However, the NBA stated its willingness to review exemptions from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons.

The First Of Many Exemption Rejections?

Wiggins sought an exemption from the NBA for religious reasons. No reason was given for the denial of the exemption. Additionally, on Friday the San Francisco Department of Public Health stated there would be no exemption for anyone 12 and older at large indoor gatherings.

“Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption,” the government agency said in a statement.

A Player’s League

The NBA has given players incredible leeway on the vaccination front. NBA players that are unvaccinated will be allowed to play during the season.

However, the NBA will test unvaccinated players daily for practice and travel days. They will test players and at least once and potentially more on game days.

But fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing. The teams based in vaccine-mandated cities will face more stringent rules because of local regulations.

The Brooklyn Nets have not escaped the vaccine mandate scrutinies. Recently during a preseason press conference, Nets general manager Sean Marks revealed a couple of players wouldn’t be eligible to play home games.

Marks felt confident that everyone would be able to participate when the regular season began on Oct. 19.

New Rules

The National Basketball Players Association has combated the NBA’s mandatory vaccination leanings. At the end of last season, 85 percent of NBA players were vaccinated.

However, the walls are closing in on Wiggins as he contends with doing his job in an environment inhospitable to his anti-vax stance.

The Golden State Warriors training camp roster ahead of the team’s 2021-22 training camp begins Tuesday at the Oracle Performance Center located inside Chase Center.

The City of San Francisco’s vaccine mandate takes effect in the middle of next month.

The team also announced the signing of free-agent forward Jordan Bell, along with guards Avery Bradley and Langston Galloway.

The NBA has struck agreements with referees, coaches, and all personnel near the players in arenas must be vaccinated in order to participate.

Wiggins and all unvaccinated other players will pose a significant dilemma to teams living in vaccine-mandated areas.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.