The 2021-22 season was undoubtedly the best year in Andrew Wiggins’ career. The Golden State Warriors starting small forward played the best basketball of his life by a long shot, and was rewarded with his first All-Star appearance — as a starter, no less.
After slumping at the end of the regular season, he found his groove in the playoffs in a big way, playing a massive role in the team’s run to a fourth title in eight years. Despite playing on a team with (at least) three future Hall of Famers, Wiggins was comfortably the Warriors second-best player in the NBA Finals, as his defense on Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum helped turn the series.
With all the highlights that shone on Wiggins’ excellent year, it’s easy to forget the lowlight of how it started — and how it almost didn’t start.
Last fall, during training camp, it was reported that Wiggins had not received a vaccination for the coronavirus. With unvaccinated workers unable to enter Chase Center for events, Wiggins was in danger of having to sit for at least half of the Warriors season.
It wasn’t clear how Golden State would handle the situation if Wiggins remained unvaccinated. The Brooklyn Nets had a similar situation with Kyrie Irving and, despite his star power, decided to not let him play in road games, either — until they ran out of players (ironically due to COVID-19 running through the locker room), and had to welcome him back.
We never found out what the Warriors would have done, because Wiggins got vaccinated on the last possible day to maintain his eligibility for the entire season. He mostly avoided talking about the subject, and most of us forgot about it once the season began, and his highlights took over.
But now it’s back in the news. In a recent video interview with FanSided’s Mark Carman, Wiggins revealed that he still has regrets about getting the vaccine. Here’s his response when asked about the decision to get vaccinated:
I still wish I didn’t get it, to be honest with you. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I did it, and you know, I was an All-Star this year, and a champion. So that was the good part, just not missing out on the year, best year of my career. But for my body, I just don’t like putting all that stuff in my body. So I didn’t like that, and I didn’t like that it wasn’t my choice, you know? I didn’t like that. It was either get this, or don’t play.
While Wiggins reserves the right to regret his inoculation status, and reserved the right to not get vaccinated had he made that choice, it’s a rather specious statement. It was Wiggins’ choice whether or not to get vaccinated, and he simply had to live with the very normal consequences. The same way it’s his choice every day whether he wants to put on shoes and a shirt if he would like to go to a restaurant, or if he wants to stay home and wear whatever he desires.
It was also slightly ironic that Wiggins’ comments came on a video specifically meant to promote his partnership with Invisalign — a health product. Wiggins didn’t make any specific false claims about the vaccine, but referring to it as “that stuff” certainly has a negative connotation that is not in line with information from medical professionals or scientists.
Get vaccinated, folks (if you can). And get boosted. It’s the bare minimum we can do to help keep our communities healthy and alive.