Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Credit Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

There is a divide between players and everyone else in the NBA when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, and some are not happy about it.

The NBA mandated that all team employees must be vaccinated -- except for players.

Mandatory vaccinations for players has been a non-starter with the National Basketball Players Association. Though the league has instituted strict protocols for unvaccinated players, there is lingering tension on staffs, ESPN reported.

"Everyone who is vaccinated should be pissed at those who aren't," a veteran assistant coach told ESPN. "Not requiring NBA players to be vaccinated is horses---."

Protocols for unvaxxed players could include eating and traveling apart from vaccinated teammates as well as being located in a different part of the locker room.

Said one strength and conditioning coach: "They need to hold the players to the same standards they hold us. This is a disease that doesn't differentiate between a player and a staff member."

Roughly 90 percent of players have been vaccinated, but some highly publicized comments made by outspoken stars in the lead-up to training camp has raised eyebrows. Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and Bradley Beal have put themselves out there in staunch opposition to getting the vaccine.

"People want to draw it as a personal health decision, but it's not," a Western Conference head athletic trainer told ESPN. "It's a public health decision."

Beal clarified earlier comments on Tuesday saying he would still considering getting the vaccine. Beal said he's currently not able to be vaccinated because he tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 60 days.

Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard said he wouldn't argue with players choosing not to be vaccinated but explained his decision was multi-faceted.

"I'm not mad at people who say they need to do their research. But I have a lot of people in my family that I spend time around," Lillard said. "I'm just not going to put their lives in danger. As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life."

Lakers superstar LeBron James took a similar line Tuesday, saying it's not his place to be an advocate to other players. James is fully vaxxed after doing his research.

"We're talking about individual bodies. We're not talking about something political or racism or police brutality," James said. "I don't think I personally should get involved in what other people do for their bodies and livelihoods. I know what I did for me and my family. ... But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and things they want to do, that's not my job."

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