Andrew Wiggins is in full flower: This past season he gained an All-Star selection, a newfound passion for defense and rebounding, and a championship ring with the Golden State Warriors. The 27-year-old cast off many of the doubts that cloud an underperforming top draft pick, and has gotten closer to justifying his still-hefty max contract. Wiggins couldn’t possibly have any misgivings about career-related decisions over these last few months—or has he found a way to inject regret into the high point of his basketball life? That’s how he wound down an otherwise smiley interview with FanSided’s Mark Carman, uploaded on Monday.
Here’s a transcript of the relevant part:
Carman: When you made the decision to get vaccinated, some people said that it really unified the Warriors, it brought the team together. I don’t know if you were trying to do that. But maybe you were. Maybe it’s like, “Hey, if I do this, even if I’m still iffy about it, this could be a great thing for the team.” Looking back on that decision, what went into it at the time?
Wiggins: I still wish I didn’t get it, to be honest with you. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I did it, and I was an All-Star this year, and [a] champion. So, that was the good part. Just not missing out on the year, best year of my career. But for my body? I just don’t like putting all that stuff in my body. So I didn’t like that, and I didn’t like that it wasn’t my choice. I didn’t like that. It was either, get this or don’t play.
Carman: Yeah, you chose hoop at the end of the day.
Unable to play at home games and select away games due to city mandates, Wiggins was at risk of forfeiting more than half of his $31.6 million in pay, and seemed ready to do so. “Back is definitely against the wall, but I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe,” he said at Media Day last September. When asked to elaborate on what it was that he believed, he said, “It’s none of your business, that’s what it comes down to.” The NBA reviewed and denied his request for a religious exemption.
Wiggins caved in early October, before the 2021-22 season began. It’s all been golden for him ever since. He played 73 regular-season games and 22 playoff games, starting in all of them and logging a robust 3,096 minutes. If he has an account for how “putting that stuff in his body” affected him negatively, I’m all ears, but there’s at least one reason he might be feeling more tired lately: his belated discovery of the entire half of basketball that isn’t offense.