Oct 22, 2021 - News

Michael Porter Jr. emerges as prominent COVID-19 vaccine skeptic

Michael Porter Jr. poses for a photo

Michael Porter Jr. Photo: Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr. steps onto the court at Ball Arena Friday unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The 23-year-old shooter is emerging as one of the NBA's most vocal skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine — and among the most prominent in Colorado.

  • He joins the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, who refuses to get vaccinated and can't play because of a local mandate, in the spotlight.
  • An estimated 95% of NBA players have received at least one dose of the vaccine, AP reports.

What he's saying: "My main thing is: We don't have years and years of data for how it can affect you,” Porter told the Ringer.

  • "I'm not against the vaccine," he added. "What I’m against is not allowing other people to have a choice, or people trying to force it on other people."

State of play: The third-year small forward is not the only Nuggets player going unvaccinated, but he's the most vocal against the shot and virus-related mandates.

  • In a July 2020 Snapchat conversation, Porter spread a conspiracy theory about the coronavirus, saying "it's being used for population control in ... terms of being able to control the masses of people."

What's new: Porter is claiming the vaccine isn't safe and contends that he's immune because he contracted COVID-19 twice. "I’ve got the antibodies, all those things," he noted.

  • Reality check: Doctors and public health experts say it's unclear how long people are protected from COVID-19 after recovering from the disease. They add that those who get the vaccine have stronger protections from illness.

Context: The NBA did not put in place a vaccine mandate, and neither did the city of Denver. So unlike Irving, Porter can play in tonight's Nuggets home opener against the San Antonio Spurs.

  • The player's association did not endorse a requirement, but the union that represents officials agreed to a mandate.

Quick take: Porter is looking to emerge as a team leader but his decision not to get the shot may hurt the team.

  • NBA protocols say unvaccinated players who come in close contact with a person who tests positive will need to quarantine for seven days. The rule doesn't apply to vaccinated players.
  • In addition, unvaccinated players can't eat with their teammates, must stay at their home or hotel and submit to frequent testing.

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