Adam Silver: NBA won’t ‘jump the line’ for COVID-19 vaccines, enforce national anthem policy this season

Ryan Young
·Writer
·4-min read

Just like his NFL counterpart, NBA commissioner Adam Silver assured fans on Monday that the league won’t “jump the line” to get COVID-19 vaccines for players, coaches or staff.

Silver — speaking with both ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and on a conference call with reporters — said that players in the league are actually pretty low on the totem pole when it comes to needing a vaccine.

"There's no way we'd ever jump the line in any form whatsoever," Silver said on ESPN. "And, for the most part, because our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations. There are some other members of the NBA community working on court who are older and will have a higher priority to get the vaccine.

"We will very likely be part of some public service campaigns, we already talked to the CDC and other federal agencies about that, encouraging people to get vaccinated when it is appropriate. But up until then, we will just be watching and waiting."

The NBA is set to kick off the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, and will conduct the 72-game regular season in teams’ respective markets instead of inside a bubble — even though the coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control throughout the country.

More than 50 players have already tested positive throughout training camps and the preseason, too.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved two different vaccines for use in the United States so far, both of which have started to be administered across the country. President-elect Joe Biden actually received his vaccine on Monday morning.

Silver said Monday that there isn’t anything in the league’s powers that could actually force players to get vaccinated against their will. Still, he doesn’t think it will get to that point — especially considering how much good that act will do not only for players in the league, but for their families and communities.

“I understand some people don’t want to get vaccinated,” Silver said on ESPN. “I think part of it will be a public information campaign, and I'm also hoping that as more people get vaccinated it increases the public's confidence in the vaccine and the testing protocols they've undergone thus far in order for the government to in essence verify it is safe.

"But, again, as time goes on, I think more people will recognize the importance of getting vaccinated and, again, not just for themselves, this is a conversation we've already begun with some members of the NBA community. But for young, healthy people, while it's still an incredibly serious disease, they tend to do better than older people, or people with underlying conditions. So, for our players, the reason to get vaccinated may not be to protect themselves. It may be to protect their parents, their grandparents and other members of the community."

Adam Silver: It’s ‘my expectation’ teams will stand for national anthem

The NBA was at the forefront of social justice protests last summer, and fully supported players’ decisions to peacefully protest throughout their time in the bubble at Walt Disney World.

The league painted “Black Lives Matter” on all three courts in Florida, and allowed players to kneel in protest during the national anthem — which actually goes against a longstanding league policy. Throughout the entire time in the bubble, nearly every player, coach and official kneeled during the anthem.

As the league transitions back to holding games in respective markets around the country, Silver said his “expectation” is that teams will start standing again for the anthem — as he thinks that “ritual” is something that brings the country together.

If they don’t, however, Silver isn’t “focusing in any way on discipline.”

“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now,” Silver said, via the New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield, “and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver insisted that the league won't "jump the line" to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

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