'My problem, not yours': Canada's Wiggins centre stage in NBA's vaccine battle

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has declined to discuss whether he remains unvaccinated, but it certainly sounds like that's the case. Wiggins said during the team's media day Monday that he will continue to stand by his beliefs when it comes to not receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

Thornhill, Ont., native commits to 'fighting for what I believe is right'

Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins poses for photos during the team's media day on Monday. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has declined to discuss whether he remains unvaccinated, but it certainly sounds like that's the case.

Wiggins said during the team's media day Monday that he will continue to stand by his beliefs when it comes to not receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

"Back is definitely against the wall, but I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe," Wiggins said. "I'm going to keep fighting for what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other and vice versa."

Wiggins, a native of Thornhill, Ont., declined to explain what those beliefs actually entail, saying, "It's none of your business, that's what it comes down to."

He faces the possibility of not being allowed into Golden State's home building at Chase Center for games come Oct. 13 when the San Francisco Department of Public Health begins requiring proof of vaccination for large indoor events.

He also stands to lose more than $350,000 US per game, and if he doesn't play in any home games he would surrender half of his $31.6 million salary. He said, "It's my problem not yours."

Wiggins said he has been given some rules to follow when in the team's facility but wouldn't say whether he is required to wear a mask around teammates, for example.

The NBA on Friday said it had "reviewed and denied" Wiggins' request for a religious exemption and that he would not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfilled the vaccine mandate. Anyone 12 or older is required to show proof of vaccination to attend indoor events at Chase Center, and that message is on the Warriors' website for fans.

"It's personal, it's private," general manager Bob Myers said of players' vaccination statuses. "What I would say is that I'm optimistic come the first game here at Chase we'll have our full complement of team as far as who's healthy and who isn't."

Coach Steve Kerr said he hadn't given any thought to the idea of Wiggins not being available.

"We'll just see how everything plays out," Kerr said. "We're hopeful that it all is resolved over the next couple of weeks, and we're going into camp tomorrow with a plan to have everybody out on the floor and ready to roll."

The 26-year-old Wiggins, entering his eighth NBA season, averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 blocks per game last season.

The Warriors' first regular-season home game is scheduled for Oct. 21 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I'm not even thinking that far ahead. I'm thinking day by day," Wiggins said.

For now, Myers isn't making contingency plans.

"I don't get to that level because like I said previously, my belief and my thoughts are that we'll have the full team," Myers said. "I'm not preparing really for anything different right now."

Kyrie Irving mum on vaccine status

Unable to attend the Brooklyn Nets' media day, Kyrie Irving asked for privacy Monday when pressed about his vaccination status and availability for home games.

On a bizarre day in which comedian David Letterman was present but Irving wasn't, the all-star guard spoke via Zoom through a monitor set up in the interview room at Barclays Center. New York has a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for athletes who play in or practice in the city.

Irving wouldn't say if he has received a shot or if he intended to get one. If a player is not vaccinated, he would be forced to sit out the Nets' home games.

"There's just a lot of questions about what's going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I'd love to just keep that private and handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan," Irving said. "So obviously I'm not able to be present there today, but that doesn't mean that I'm putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team."

The Nets are hosting their training camp in San Diego, so Irving would be able to participate. They will return to Brooklyn after playing their exhibition opener in Los Angeles next Sunday.

"Please, everything will be released at a due date and once we get this cleared up," Irving said. "As of right now, please just respect my privacy regarding anything -- home games, what's happening with vaccination."

The players who were asked about Irving said they weren't concerned. That included Kevin Durant, who was asked after getting a few comedic questions such as why he was nicknamed "KD" from Letterman, who said he was reporting for Basketball Digest.

"It's on Kyrie and that's his personal decision," Durant said. "What he does is not on us to speculate what may happen, but we trust in Kyrie. I expect us to have our whole team at some point."

COVID, vaccines remain hot topics

Utah centre Rudy Gobert revealed that after much deliberation, he decided to become vaccinated. San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich has gotten his booster shot already while Boston counterpart Ime Udoka had his shots and tested positive for COVID-19 anyway.

The NBA season arrived Monday with media days in advance of training camp, with the ongoing pandemic as much if not even more of a topic than basketball. This will be the third season affected at least in part by the pandemic, almost certainly not the last, and some teams revealed that their rosters are 100 per cent vaccinated entering the season.

"When I felt like it was the right time, I did it," said Gobert, the first NBA player who was known to test positive for COVID-19, back on March 11, 2020.

The Spurs have a fully vaccinated roster, Popovich said. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers said last week they would have the same, and some other clubs, including Utah, Portland, Houston and Charlotte, said they were at the 100% mark.

Other teams, including the Toronto Raptors, are close to being fully vaccinated.

Kawhi Leonard tries to stay 'relevant' during rehab

Kawhi Leonard is heading into his third season with the Los Angeles Clippers just trying to get healthy.

The former Toronto Raptors' star is two months into rehab after surgery to repair a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee on July 13.

Leonard describes his status as day-to-day with no estimated timetable for his return. He says it was "very challenging" being injured during the playoffs last season when he didn't really even feel hurt.

Leonard says he'll "try to make myself as relevant as possible" while being confined to the sideline.

76ers set to start season without Simmons drama

Philadelphia 76ers star guard Ben Simmons was a no-show at Monday's media day and was not expected to report when training camp opens Tuesday following his off-season trade request, even with $147 million and four years left on his contract.

But, perhaps, however unfathomable, all is not lost.

"I think there's a lot of hope," 76ers president Daryl Morey said.

Whether he truly believed that or it was just public posturing, only Morey knows, but he said he thought a reconciliation with Simmons was possible.

Simmons, a three-time all-star, was not on the trading block until his representatives met with Morey over the summer and said the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft wanted out. Head coach Doc Rivers, perhaps Simmons' most ardent supporter, said the player and his representatives were light on specifics of the trade demand.

The toxic mix for Simmons comes down to this: He's hurt by comments Rivers and teammate Joel Embiid made in the aftermath of the Game 7 loss and hurt by stinging criticism from media and fans and how he has shouldered the blame for the Sixers' playoff woes.

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