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LA joins NY, San Fran with sweeping vax mandate

Los Angeles became the third NBA city to pass a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate that will impact its NBA teams, joining New York and San Francisco.

The ordinance, which was both passed by the Los Angeles City Council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday, will go into effect Nov. 29. Starting that day, anyone entering, among other facilities, indoor gyms — including Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers — will have to be fully vaccinated, meaning 14 days past their last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” Garcetti said in a statement. “These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers — so that we can save more lives, better protect the vulnerable, and make our communities even safer as we fight this pandemic.”

Both the Lakers and Clippers said last month that their teams are, or are in the process of being, fully vaccinated. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in his preseason media session that the Lakers will be fully vaccinated by opening night later this month.

“On opening night when we play the Golden State Warriors, all of the players that are currently signed on our roster, on that night, will be deemed fully vaccinated,” Pelinka, who is also the team’s president of basketball operations, said on a video conference call last Thursday. “We’re really grateful for that.”

Lakers star Anthony Davis said later on media day that he believed the Lakers already were fully vaccinated.

And although Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank declined to talk about their team’s vaccination status previously, coach Tyronn Lue said during the team’s training camp in San Diego last week that his team was fully vaccinated.

“Our guys are vaccinated, so, we just have to do whatever the league tells us to do; we try to abide by the rules and kind of go from there,” Lue said last week. “And we talked about it last year, just being able to adapt and do what we need to do to play the game that we love. And so, certain players, certain people have different beliefs, so I respect those beliefs. And our guys are fully vaccinated, so I respect their beliefs as well.”

San Francisco, like Los Angeles, has a requirement that people be fully vaccinated to enter buildings such as Chase Center, home of the Warriors. New York, on the other hand, requires proof of only one shot of a vaccine to gain entrance to, among other places, Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, the homes of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, respectively.

As in those cities, however, there is an exemption in L.A. for “non-resident performers,” meaning the mandate will apply only to members of the Lakers and Clippers and not to players on opposing teams.

Over the weekend, Golden State forward Andrew Wiggins got vaccinated, allowing him to play in home games in San Francisco when the regular season begins later this month.

“The only options were to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA,” Wiggins said after the Warriors’ preseason opener at the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, his first public comments since getting the shot. “It was a tough decision. Hopefully, it works out in the long run and in 10 years I’m still healthy.”

Nets star Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, continues to sit out activities in New York because he has yet to receive a shot. The rest of the Nets, as well as the entire rosters for the Knicks and Warriors, are in compliance with the local mandates.

“I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team and be there for my growing tribe off the court,” Irving said during a virtual media session last week during Brooklyn’s media day because he was unable to attend in person at Barclays Center due to the mandate.

“I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this. I’m doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart.”

ESPN’s Nick Friedell, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.

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