Saturday, October 23, 2021

Andrew Wiggins Fails in Request to Defer Vaccine Shots as Team USA Restocks Shelves

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Andrew Wiggins and his parents. (Getty Images).

NBA and WNBA teams are getting a little extra done this weekend. Team USA is getting a little extra relaxed as a result of the late news that the Minnesota Timberwolves star is refuting on-court jabs by President Donald Trump during an event Friday.

Surprise: Wiggins’s request was denied.

According to USA Today, Wiggins asked the team to grant him a religious exemption from the team’s vaccine policy before last summer’s Games in Brazil. Wiggins, who is Catholic, said he and his family asked the team to approve the exemption in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It was granted in 2016.

“Despite requested religious accommodations, it has not been granted during this time,” the letter from Wiggins’ agent, Joel Levin, said.

Several players have filed for such waivers to keep themselves from getting shots during the season as religious beliefs opposing immunizations — and vaccines — have grown in recent years. The Washington Wizards’ John Wall, Sixers star Joel Embiid and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are among the NBA players who have requested exemptions from team policies. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, another devout Christian, hasn’t followed the trend and has no plans to switch in this area.

Trump recently made headlines when, while addressing lawmakers over the nation’s debt, he said he might ban the practice of immunizations, a perceived attack on popular vaccinations such as the measles and the mumps. In the move, he alienated the roughly 10 percent of the population that is religiously against vaccinations.

“We’re going to give those children a choice,” Trump said, adding, “You’re basically allowing drugs into our country that have never been shown to work and can cause tremendous and even sometimes very permanent damage.”

The NBA vigorously denied Trump’s claims while the World Anti-Doping Agency questioned his sources.

In Wiggins’s case, however, there appears to be no hard-and-fast religious exemption policy for teams. But the parenthetical phrase that was added to the document requesting the exemption in 2014 seems to suggest that Wiggins’s request was denied this time.

Wiggins averaged 22.8 points this season for the Timberwolves, but he turned down a maximum contract worth $189 million in July to remain in Minnesota, choosing to take a four-year, $90 million deal with a player option for the fourth year. Wiggins is the eighth player to attend the draft festivities in a wheelchair and he’s been compared to Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant in terms of ability, athleticism and long-term potential.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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