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How could Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine news be a big gamechanger for the NBA and sports overall?

The pharmaceutical giant worked with German firm BioNTech for a test vaccine that may help end the coronavirus pandemic.

2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit
Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, announced that the pharmaceutical company has a coronavirus vaccine that is 90 percent effective according to early results.
Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

On Monday, Pfizer announced that early testing trials from a coronavirus vaccine were 90 percent effective compared to a control group. The data from those trials were examined yesterday and discussed with government officials. It has fueled stock market booms, especially in the travel industry, which has been hard hit by the virus.

The pandemic has also affected the NBA and all professional sports significantly this year. Games can’t have fans in most circumstances. With news of a vaccine, that changes things in the months ahead.

Let’s assume the vaccine trial data is verified by the government and it’s ultimately approved for use. How could it affect the NBA?

It won’t change how life will be like this winter or how a 2020-21 NBA season goes. But a 2021-22 season could be closer to normal again.

Washington Wizards v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Large gatherings have been strongly discouraged this year and they will be at the beginning of next year. US President Elect Joe Biden issued a statement making it clear that there will be “many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.”

Depending on how much of the country gets vaccinated, NBA arenas could start having more fans in the stands for opening day in October 2021. That alone will help make things a lot better for the teams’ pocketbooks and fans’ morales.


Expect NBA players and professional athletes to get the coronavirus vaccine before average people. They won’t get it before healthcare workers though.

Companies Working On Coronavirus Vaccine Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The news of a coronavirus vaccine is great news. But that now creates competition among various groups of people to get it.

The highest priority group for the vaccine would be the healthcare workers at hospitals and other medical facilities, followed by a combination of the elderly, immunocompromised, first responders, law enforcement and those involved in delivery/logistics/food services. So the food processor, the UPS driver, maybe even the Uber driver will get vaccinated sooner — and they really should. After these groups, it remains to be seen who would be next.

My feeling is that NBA players and professional athletes would get the vaccine faster than the general public. International professional athletes are considered essential workers due to a national interest from the Trump Administration. That is why European and Canadian players can still travel to America from their home countries despite travel bans. Though there will be a new administration next year, I don’t think President Elect Biden will change that.

In addition, I expect all high performing athletes would get vaccinated sooner in an effort to keep the 2020 Olympics going in Tokyo, Japan next summer.

As for the general population who doesn’t have an essential job or are a high risk, it may not be until next fall when you get vaccinated. We need to be patient while a vaccine from Pfizer or another company is being distributed.


Wizards ticket prices will probably remain stagnant for a couple years, unless they suddenly improve.

Dallas Mavericks v Washington Wizards
Don’t expect to have to pay more money to watch the Wizards play in the next couple years.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

With an effective vaccine, the 2021-22 NBA season could be a normal 82-game season from a scheduling phase if not from a fan attendance one. But the 2022-23 season could be essentially normal when full crowds could go to games again.

That said, how would prices for games be? For the Wizards here in the D.C. area, I assume prices will stay where they are, even if demand is there, mainly because of the economic downturn. That said the Wizards could increase prices if they become an Eastern Conference finalist next season (unlikely).

2020 has been a rough year all around. But the news of an effective vaccine is ... really, really good for us all, even if we have to wait another year for it. How do you feel about the vaccine news and its possible impact on the NBA? Let us know in the comments below.

And, I’ll say this a third time because there is still no vaccine in the general public as of today.