The Toronto Raptors have one of the best homecourt advantages in the league, as Scotiabank Arena can be a house of horrors for opposing teams. With Canada’s vaccine mandate preventing border crossing for the uninoculated, names like Kyrie Irving and Matisse Thybulle were unable to show up.
While getting vaccinated is the best way to keep yourself and your teammates safe from COVID-19, some players have taken it upon themselves not to get protected from the virus. Mandates and encouragement from both the league and the government have not helped everyone get the shot.
Toronto was preparing for another entire season where they could be excused from having to suit up against some important names, Irving being chief among them. Unfortunately for Toronto, the mandates that benefitted them on the court are one week away from being nullified.
The government will drop the federal vaccine mandate on September 30, meaning that unvaccinated players can finally cross the border and suit up against Toronto. With the Raptors in a division that features two very prominent unvaccinated players, their path to contention just got even more complex.
The Toronto Raptors’ vaccine mandate advantage is gone.
The Thybulle absence managed to bite the 76ers in the rear, as they lost one of their best defensive players for some pivotal regular season games and Toronto’s postseason games north of the border. That undoubtedly changed the calculus for Doc Rivers.
The biggest player impacted as a result of this decision is Irving, who is now free to play in all 29 NBA arenas. The Raptors had some success against the Nets last year, but Irving didn’t suit up in any of their matchups. Adding Kyrie to the mix makes Brooklyn much more dangerous.
The Raptors’ organization was fully vaccinated last year, and likely will be again. Any mandates in place on the American or Canadian side of the border will have no effect on the Raptors.
This whole situation is a sharp change from earlier in the offseason, when the league ruled that unvaccinated individuals must be held out “due to health and safety protocols.”
Of course, Irving and Thybulle could have simply gotten a safe, effective vaccine and chosen to avoid all this strife. As it stands right now, those players will be able to come to Canada, making life even more difficult for the Raptors. That’s just what this tea, needed, isn’t it?