The NBA has denied Andrew Wiggins' request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco's vaccination requirement.
The ruling was announced Saturday hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.
Because of local Covid-19 regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.
Wiggins sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.
"The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins' request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's order requiring Covid-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events," the league said in a statement.
"Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city's vaccination requirements."
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days and at least once — possibly more — on game days, while fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.
However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to clubs visiting them.
The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.
"I'm proud to say that our organisation — players, coaches and staff — are 100 percent vaccinated," general manager Scott Perry said Saturday. "And I think it's a credit to our players, too, in particular that they took this thing very seriously and took the responsibility to get that done."
Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn't yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season began on Oct. 19.
Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco's mandate doesn't take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Wednesday.
The NBA has struck agreements this offseason to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.
The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau credited the Knicks' medical staff for keeping the organisation educated and aware about virus protocols. Perry praised the players for acting on the information they were given, saying their decision to get vaccinated was unrelated to any rules.
"As an organisation we're obviously following laws and mandates for the league and state government, but a lot of this was internal, internally driven," Perry said.