Anthony Davis confirmed on Monday night that he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Lakers star made it clear that it wasn’t the NBA’s revised guidelines for vaccinated players or protection from the pandemic that served as his primary motivation to take his shots.
“We’re all just trying to play our part, man, honestly,” Davis said. “I’m trying to play my part in getting 20,000 back in Staples so that we can get some more cheers in there than we have now.”
Those comments were especially notable because of their timing, coming the same day that the Lakers confirmed that Dennis Schröder had had entered into the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the next 10-14 days. That announcement led to the resurfacing of an interview Schröder gave to German media outlet NTV last month in which he expressed hesitancy to get the vaccine.
In the same interview, Schröder implied that he and LeBron James were the only two members of the Lakers to not take the COVID-19 vaccine yet. James had previously said he would not disclose if he was planning to get vaccinated or not.
For Schröder, not only does it appear that his choice has now potentially put his health in jeopardy — which is obviously bigger than basketball — it has also potentially ruled him out for the remainder of the regular season as the Lakers try to build chemistry.
All of it led to one natural follow-up question: Has the NBA done enough to sway its players to get vaccinated?
“We definitely pointed out to our whole team the benefits of as many guys getting vaccinated as possible,” said Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. “How there’s competitive advantages to it. There are, for lack of a better word, lifestyle advantages of doing it. We can do more team-oriented stuff if we reach the 85% (threshold)... less testing, all those things were laid out very clearly for our guys and showed all of them the benefits.”
The benefits for NBA players — beyond protection from a potentially fatal virus, obviously — are multiple. Any player who is two weeks past their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can do a variety of things that unvaccinated players cannot, and as Vogel mentioned, there is even more freedom for teams who have 85% of both their players and staff vaccinated, rules Baxter Holmes of ESPN outlined after obtaining the NBA’s revised guidelines:
Fully vaccinated individuals will no longer have to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19; can have friends, family and others visit at home and on the road without having them test or register with the team; and can dine outdoors at restaurants, among other eased restrictions.
Fully vaccinated teams will no longer have to wear masks at the practice facility; have more flexibility to leave the team hotel on the road; and can dine indoors or outdoors at restaurants, among other eased restrictions.
Vogel has said that the Lakers are not at that 85% threshold, but Davis — whose mother and aunts all work in healthcare and made the seriousness of the pandemic clear to him early on — said that he and many of his teammates got the vaccine to help society return closer to normal, not because the NBA is pushing them to.
“I don’t think the NBA forced anyone to do it,” Davis said. “I think it was highly encouraged, and some guys did, some guys didn’t for their own personal reasons. I decided to for my own personal reasons, so I don’t think the league is forcing anyone to do so.
“There are different rules when you are fully vaccinated and when you’re not. That wasn’t a factor for me,” Davis continued. “It might be a factor for other guys but the rules do change a little bit when you are fully vaccinated. I’m not sure, but I think we’ve got a lot of guys on this team who have been vaccinated, if I’m not mistaken.”
Davis isn’t alone in choosing to take his shots. Montrezl Harrell posted video of himself excitedly getting vaccinated, and Vogel said that the Lakers had multiple meetings with their players to outline why the vaccine is safe and effective, one taking place before the vaccine was available early in the season, and one right before the team started being offered it on April 15. He also wanted to point out that right now, no one on the Lakers is considered fully vaccinated because of when the vaccine was made available to them.
“I got the vaccine on the 16th. If I test positive right now, that doesn’t matter, I’m not fully vaccinated until the Pelicans game (May 15),” Vogel said. ”So we’re not even in that window, so I don’t think anybody should question that.”
Still, Vogel also admitted that while the Lakers are clearly strongly encouraging their players to get vaccinated to help the team, themselves and do their part for society, no one was being forced to.
“We support all of our players’ right to make their own decision about their bodies. It’s as simple as that. This is one of those things that everyone has a different viewpoint on it in terms of how they want to manage their personal health, and we support our players with whatever they decide,” Vogel said. “It’s their own personal choice and we respect that.”