EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker confirms he’s fully vaccinated, returns to Suns after having COVID-19

Oct 1, 2021, 4:13 PM
A dejected Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns leaves the court following the team's loss to the LA...
A dejected Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns leaves the court following the team's loss to the LA Clippers during the second half in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 28, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — When the Phoenix Suns announced early Sunday afternoon that guard Devin Booker would miss media day and the start of training camp due to health and safety protocols, Booker streamed on Twitch later that day.

At the start, Booker addressed the most common questions flowing through his chat, where his fans can send him messages. He said he indeed had COVID-19, it had been about a week and he was feeling fine outside of having no taste or no smell. When his vaccination status came up, the top inquiry that comes whenever a player is put on that list, he did comment on it, but would not say if he was vaccinated or not.

This, plus Booker getting the virus in the first place, led to an assumption by some that Booker was not vaccinated, he said. But in his return to the team on Friday, he confirmed that he is vaccinated and has been for a while with his family.

“I feel like that shouldn’t be the topic of discussion,” Booker said after stating his status. “I stayed at home for media day and looking for a quote on some type of basketball and I didn’t see anything.”

Like Booker indicated, the vaccination conversation dominated the NBA’s first week back, with the league’s players and coaches being asked about their vaccination status and their thoughts on it.

While certain answers given by players would turn to the question being a personal and/or political one, the bottom line behind the science is a vaccinated player has far less of a chance of getting COVID-19.

And if they do get it, their chances for mild-to-severe symptoms are lower as well, relevant information to a player’s status throughout an NBA season. Not to mention the most general point of vaccinated players having a decreased chance of being out because of the league’s protocols, as it enters its third season affected by the ongoing pandemic.

For example, a vaccinated player is more likely to come back sooner if they get labeled with the “health and safety protocols” designation and have indeed come down with the virus. If it is known that the player is unvaccinated, there’s a greater chance they could miss a longer period of time and come down with more serious side effects.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum contracted COVID-19 last season and had to use an inhaler at times afterward to help with his breathing, which played into his decision to later get vaccinated.

There are also a few local mandates in place across the country that will see players on the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks currently in a position to be unable to play in their home games if they are not vaccinated. And who knows if more are on the way.

Regardless or not of where the basketball side intertwines with the discussion, there is an element of the discourse that includes the freedom of choice that individuals have on getting vaccinated, something Booker spoke on.

“I feel like everybody should have their own right and their own decision on what they are doing with their body,” he said. “And that was my decision, to get vaccinated.”

Booker signed off on comments made by Warriors forward Draymond Green, who elaborated on that more.

“We’re basketball players, man,” Booker said. “And to be highlighting the vaccine and putting that pressure on type of guys, what they should do and what they shouldn’t do with their bodies — I feel (it was) just too much.”

Booker feeling the “heat,” as he put it, had him imagining what other players around the league were going through that declared they were unvaccinated.

“I can only imagine how it feels for people that aren’t vaccinated that are having that pressure of people trying to tell them what to do with their bodies,” he said.

The talk that will continue to swirl around the league won’t come up all that much on the Suns’ side anymore, though, because every player this week confirmed they are fully vaccinated. That includes new guard Elfird Payton, who said he got his second dose on Sunday. It’s out there and known now, so that’s that.

As usual, Suns head coach Monty Williams put it best.

“I don’t have anything of value to add to the present conversation, I just don’t want it to be divisive,” he said. “I just think that COVID-19 is a health issue and that should be the goal and I think that’s what the league is trying to do. And yet, we have people that have their own value systems and opinions and that’s fine but I just don’t want it to be something that divides us any more than we already are. Our society is divided on issues.

“I think what the NBA is trying to do is just do the best job it can to get us playing and keep everybody safe. And then you have people that have their own personal views as it relates to vaccines. It is a personal issue but it’s also a public issue and a social issue, so that lines get crossed. I just hate when we are divided over it and we make it political and all that silly stuff that comes into play, that’s where I get a bit turned off by it all.

“As a coach, I get it. We have players in the league that have an opinion, we live in a free country but we also, within a free country, we work in private industries and it’s hard to abide by both sometimes. So I understand both sides of the coin.”

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