Andrew Wiggins stands to forfeit half of his $31.6 million salary during the 2021-22 NBA season if he declines to receive the vaccine for COVID-19.
“And it’s my problem, not yours,” the 26-year-old former Kansas Jayhawks small forward told reporters Monday at Golden State Warriors Media Day in San Francisco.
Wiggins, an eight-year NBA veteran who played one season (2013-14) at KU before turning pro, will not be allowed to play in Warriors’ home games if he’s unvaccinated. He also would not be allowed to play in road games against the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets because of health regulations in those cities.
San Francisco rules require all individuals, including NBA players, to show proof of vaccine if they wish to attend a large indoor event. According to the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee, Wiggins would lose more than $350,000 a game if he’s unable to play because of his vaccination status. The Warriors play 41 home games.
Wiggins — he did not tell reporters Monday whether he’s been vaccinated — presumably has not been jabbed, considering the NBA front office denied on Friday a religious exemption request filed by Wiggins.
“It’s all good. I’m just going to keep it private for now,” Wiggins said when asked by a reporter if he wanted to “set the record straight and tell us one way or another (if he’s received the shot).”
Asked if he’s “made a decision or is still figuring out” what he will do regarding vaccination, Wiggins, who back in March said he had no plans to be vaccinated in the future, said: “I’m keeping it all private right now. Taking it day by day.”
Wiggins did speak in specifics about his teammates’ response to his reportedly not being vaccinated as training camp begins.
“It’s all love. It’s all love and support. No negative energy,” Wiggins said. “My team, I love them. I would talk to them about anything. I know whatever I say to them is going to stay private. If they want to chat about it or anything, it wouldn’t matter,” he stated.
Asked why he is not making his belief about being vaccinated public, Wiggins said: “Because it’s none of your business. That’s what it comes down to, you know. I don’t ask you about your beliefs. I don’t ask you about what you guys (media) think is right or wrong. We’re different people.
“It would be like parenting. Some people shed their beliefs onto their children. Some people let their children grow up and believe what they want to believe. Who are you guys why I have to explain what I believe, or you know, what’s right or what’s wrong in my mind? We are two totally different people. What you think is not what I think. What I think is not what you think.”
Perhaps his most revealing answer came when a media member asked Wiggins if he feels his “back is against the wall and you have to make a choice either way and that’s frustrating?”
“Back is definitely against the wall,” Wiggins replied. “But just going to keep fighting for what I believe, whether it’s one thing or another, get the vaccination or not get the vaccination, who knows, like, I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe and what I believe is right. What’s right to one person isn’t right to the other, you know, vice versa.
“I’ll say something when I’m ready,” he added. “The only thing the media has done is kind of make it bigger than it has to be. So like I said, I will say my side of everything when I’m ready. I don’t work on y’all’s time. I work on my time.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked how he would “handle the situation” if he has an unvaccinated player on the roster once the season starts.
“I haven’t spent any time thinking about that, nor will I,” Kerr said. “We’ll just see how everything plays out. We’re hopeful that it is all resolved in the next couple of weeks, but we are going into camp tomorrow with a plan to have everybody out on the floor and ready to roll.”
In the meantime, Wiggins’ vaccination status figures to remain a hot topic of discussion in the Bay Area.
Wiggins faced the question if he needs to wear a mask when he’s around his teammates.
“I’m just going to keep what I do private,” he said. “I’m sure whatever I do in this building is going to get out to you guys, anyway, so I’m sure you guys will figure it out or know about it within the next couple hours or tomorrow or something. So I’m just going to keep whatever I do private, even though it’s probably going to come to light eventually.”