The NBA’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for officials has left one long-time referee without a job.
Ken Mauer, who started his career back in 1986, said in a recent podcast interview with Jason Whitlock of The Blaze that he is unvaccinated, leading the league to sideline him this season.
“I never thought that my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ would prevent me or stop me or get in the way of me refereeing NBA basketball games. … That’s what’s happened,” Mauer said. “Not to just me, but other people.”
Mauer, who is Catholic, cited widely debunked theories that aborted fetal tissue was used in the vaccines when making his decision. Mauer is the third-longest tenured referee in league history, behind Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford, who each worked for 39 seasons. He added that as many as 17 officials initially refused to take the vaccine. Once the season began, just four holdouts remained, including himself.
“There are many referees that didn’t want to take the vaccine,” Mauer said. “And there are many referees who were forced to because they have children, they have families, and they have bills to pay. … They’re scared and I’m not. I’m never going to take [the vaccine].”
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the Referees Association includes a vaccine mandate, but players are not required to get the jab. The NBA Referees Association’s decision to agree to a vaccine mandate without full support has Mauer admiring the truckers in the Freedom Convoy from a distance. “I will never ever question what a trucker charges me to ship something again in my life,” the former NBA referee said. “I’m so proud of them.”