Wiggins had been unvaccinated heading into training camp, and had requested a religious exemption from the league, which was denied. During media day, he made headlines for his refusal to get the vaccine, saying “I’m confident in my beliefs and what I think is right and what I think is wrong. What’s right for one person isn’t right for another.”
Ignoring the potential health consequences, Wiggins’ initial decision not to get the vaccine was an issue for the Warriors from a basketball perspective. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has an order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events. That meant that if Wiggins remained unvaccinated once the regular season began, he would not have been able to play in home games.
It goes without saying that having a starter unavailable for half of your games would be a major issue. Wiggins averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season, while shooting 38 percent from 3-point land and often guarding the opponents’ best perimeter player. Even if Wiggins has never quite lived up to the potential that made him the No. 1 pick, he’s still a solid player in this league and a key part of the Warriors’ rotation.
Wiggins’ teammates spoke about the situation on media day, and it was clear, especially from Steph Curry, that they wanted him to get vaccinated. “We hope he’s available,” Curry said. “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,” Curry continued. “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.”