The NBA is cracking down on the unvaccinated.
Professional basketball players will have new protocols enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unvaccinated player locker’s distance from vaccinated teammates will be significant.
Sources: NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety player protocols for 2021 Summer League in Las Vegas: pic.twitter.com/NEjRTocTBs
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 23, 2021
As part of the league’s anticipated COVID-19 health and safety protocols, they will have to eat, fly, and ride buses in different sections.
The protocols were released to teams Thursday in a memo. ESPN obtained a copy of the message and multiple reports have corroborated.
The rules are not final and talks are ongoing with the Players union. At its core, the guidelines separate the experiences of vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
Unvaccinated players will have to undergo testing on game days and practice days and, depending on team schedules, could have to test twice on some game days.
Vaccinated players will not undergo daily testing. In addition, vaccinated players testing happens if they have symptoms themselves or are exposed to someone confirmed as COVID-19 positive.
If an unvaccinated player is in close contact with someone who tested positive, they must enter seven-day quarantine. Conversely, vaccinated players will not face quarantine if they are close but don’t test positive.
LeBron James violated the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols when he attended a photoshoot with Drake and Michael B. Jordan before playing the Warriors on Wednesday, per @mcten
There’s no sign that his availability for Game 1 against the Suns is in question pic.twitter.com/7OiR3rBwur
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 22, 2021
In addition, unvaccinated players cannot sit next to vaccinated teammates at team meals. The protocol also applies to team meetings, and the six-foot rule is constant.
The protocol also applies to flights. Unvaccinated players will be in a section of the plane reserved for team staff. On buses, unvaccinated players would sit away from other players or in a separate bus from vaccinated players.
The protocols are nothing new to the league. Recently, the NBA informed teams that all personnel working within 15 feet of players or referees must be fully vaccinated. Also, last week, the NBA and the referee’s union announced an agreement for all referees to be vaccinated.
The league wants an agreement with the player’s union to test all players for COVID-19 antibodies as part of the preseason physicals.
However, unvaccinated players with documented COVID-19 recovery within the previous six months will have protocols relaxed by approval.
With COVID-19 still here, the league is adjusting to new realities.