It’s hard to believe, but we’re only a month away from the third NBA season that will be played, at least in part, during the coronavirus pandemic. I can’t decide if it seems like just yesterday or 25 years ago that the Golden State Warriors were going forward with a March 2020 game, against the desires of the city of San Francisco.
And then just like that, the season — and world — were put on pause.
It never resumed for the Warriors, who were stuck on 15 wins and not invited to the restart bubble in Florida. The 2020-21 season was more normal, but still very clearly impacted, with no fans for much of the season, and limited fans for the rest of it.
And now begins season three, which should be the least impacted, but certainly not without the pandemic still looming over its head.
The COVID-19 vaccine came out right around the time that the 2020-21 season got underway, and we were deep into the season before it became available to the general public. But this season comes with a vaccine not only readily available to everyone, but fully FDA approved as well. And the NBA has set some good and strict protocols to help keep teams and fans safe.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the coronavirus protocols for the upcoming season require very frequent testing for unvaccinated players. Players and staff members who are not fully vaccinated will be required to receive a negative coronavirus test on every travel day and every practice day, as well as two negative tests on every game day. In other words, about 10 coronavirus tests per week.
Fully vaccinated players and personnel will not be subject to any COVID-19 tests, though presumably the protocols will cover contact tracing situations.
Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 14, 2021
- Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing
- Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; Two negative tests on Game Day. https://t.co/ASKdCdfD1t
The vaccine status of most of the Warriors is unknown. When the vaccine first became available to the team, coach Steve Kerr said that about a dozen players and staffers — including himself — had gotten their first dose. He didn’t reveal names, though he confirmed that Draymond Green was among the group. Damion Lee later contracted the virus in a breakthrough case, meaning that he is vaccinated as well.
Andrew Wiggins and Kent Bazemore both said they would not be getting vaccinated at the time, and it’s unclear if Wiggins still holds that stance. If he or any other members of the organization are unvaccinated, they could run into more problems than just regular testing, as current rules in San Francisco seem to imply that unvaccinated Warriors would be unable to play home games at Chase Center.