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Magic Johnson on Unvaccinated Players: 'I Would Never Do That To My Teammates'

Lakers legend Magic Johnson wants every NBA player to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ahead of Opening Night of the league's 75th anniversary season, Johnson told CBS News that every player should advocate for vaccination of the general public. He also urged non-vaccinated NBA players to get vaccinated.

"You have said to your teammates that you are going to be there for them, well you can't be there if you don't get vaccinated," Johnson said. "You letting them down and then that hurts our chances of winning a championship, I would never do that to my teammates. Never." 

Johnson added he felt it was his obligation to be at the forefront of urging people in his community to received the vaccine.

"That's why I got my two shots and made sure I put it out on social media," Johnson said. "First, I wanted to let my community know that it is safe and players. ...people listen to them [players] and follow them." 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week around 96% of the league's players are vaccinated.

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The NBA season kicked off on Tuesday with a doubleheader that included the champion Bucks taking on the Nets. The Nets were without Kyrie Irving, who has not yet received the vaccine, and is prohibited from playing in home games under New York City's COVID-19 restrictions.

Although Irving could play in arenas where local laws do not permit proof of vaccination to enter, Brooklyn has opted against that, saying the franchise would wait until Irving fulfills his vaccination requirements to allow him to be with the team.

Silver, who recently said Irving's refusal to get the vaccine was not a league issue, was disappointed that Irving was not with Brooklyn on opening night. However, he hopes the seven-time All Star will get the vaccine and rejoin the team.

“I'd tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family," Silver said Tuesday on Inside the NBA. "Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”

Other former NBA players like Charles Barkley also chimed in and agreed with Johnson and Silver, saying that Irving should get vaccinated to help save lives around him.

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