PORTLAND (CBS SF) -- The Golden State Warriors hoisted up 69 3-point attempts, their defense was spotty at best, but the major win of their exhibition season opening victory over Portland Monday night was that star forward Andrew Wiggins was on the court.
That was not always a given. Until last weekend, Wiggins was among some 40 NBA players who had refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination shot despite a league mandate demanding it.
He asked for a religious exemption, but the league denied the request. San Francisco public heath officials added to his dilemma, telling Wiggins he could not play home games at the Chase Center because of their COVID vaccination requirements for large indoor gatherings.
Additional pressure came when the league announced unvaccinated players would not be paid for the games they missed and that they would be faced with weekly testing and some form of quarantine. Wiggins was looking at losing more than $15 million.
It all led to his decision to get vaccinated late last week.
"It came down to get the vaccination or don't play basketball," he said in a post-game interview. "I'm 26. I have two kids...I'm trying to generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future. Trying to create generational wealth. I took the gamble (getting the shot), I took the risk, and hopefully I'm good."
Gone during the post-game news conference was the tension of his season-opening meeting with reporters which was defensive and evasive.
Wiggins calmly fielded questions and his answers were thoughtful and reflective of the difficult decision thousands of employees face with stiff vaccination mandates.
"I feel like the only options were to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA," he said. "It was a tough decision. Hopefully it works out in the long run -- in 10 years I'm still healthy."
Wiggins said he had gotten plenty of support from his teammates -- who have all been vaccinated -- while he wrestled with the decision.
"There was nothing but love, especially from Draymond (Green). (Andre) Iguodala said a lot of good stuff," he said. "So there was a lot of support on the team. I felt like whatever decision I decided to make, they were going to stand by it. It felt good."
He also harbors no ill will towards the Warriors organization.
"Not toward the organization, they didn't make the rules," Wiggins said. "I guess to do certain stuff, to work and all that, I guess you don't own your body. That's what it comes down to. You want to work in society today, I guess they make the rules of what goes into your body and what you do."
"Hopefully there's a lot of people out there that are stronger than me and keep fighting, stand for what they believe and hopefully it works out for them."
Wiggins also revealed that he had suffered a bout with the virus in the past.
"I had COVID before. It wasn't too bad," Wiggins said. "A couple years ago, I had an allergic reaction to something. It was a scary moment. I carry an EpiPen now. I know a lot of people get reactions, were getting reactions, or injuries from getting the vaccination. Also I don't know what it is going to do to me in 10 years."
"The majority of it (my concern) had been long term," he added later. "I had reaction a couple years ago to Tylenol. From there I never really like to take anything. I just let stuff heal naturally."
As to his reaction to the vaccination, Wiggins suffered through a day of uncomfortable symptoms.
"I just had a little body aches. Chills. It was just one day," Wiggins said.
Wiggins came to the Golden State Warriors from the Minnesota Timberwolves in February 2020. Last season he averaged 18.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. His current contract with the Warriors runs through 2023.
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