The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Matisse Thybulle for their first-round playoff series in Toronto. The Sixers starter confirmed he isn’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 which is a requirement for visitors wishing to enter Canada.
Thybulle addressed his reasoning for being unvaccinated after the Sixers’ 118-106 win over Detroit. The 25-year-old wing player was very introspective and delivered a thoughtful response on why he made the controversial decision. You might not agree with it, but don’t think for one minute that he took it lightly. Thybulle traced it back to his family upbringing, a child who grew up in a household of holistic medicine.
“I’m not fully vaccinated. This was a decision that I made a long time ago. I thought a lot about what I’d say here,” Thybulle told reporters on Sunday night. “Essentially, I made this choice and I thought I can keep it to myself, I can keep it private, but people are always going to wonder why. I was raised in a holistic household where anti-vax is not a term that was ever used.
“It’s a very weird term, it’s kind of been thrown around to just label people. We grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors, and just with that upbringing, coming into this situation, I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.”
Thybulle went on to say that he actually did get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, then chose not to get the second shot after scientists concluded vaccinated people could still carry the virus. At that point, he didn’t feel that traditional medicine was more beneficial than holistic medicine.
“And as things escalated, and as this situation played out, I obviously had to reconsider and look at it differently,” Thybulle said. “It got to the point last year during the playoffs where I did actually consider getting vaccinated, and went through with getting the first shot, the first dose, because at that point I was under the impression getting vaccinated would mean that I could not get the disease and transmit it to other people. I felt like if I’m going to be a part of society in the position I’m in I need to do what’s right for the greater good. That argument of the greater good held a lot of weight for me.”
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Testing Positive, Trusting Holistic Medicine
Thybulle tested positive twice for COVID-19 this season. He missed 16 days and seven games in November, then missed 11 days and five games in January. The Sixers’ defensive stalwart refused the COVID-19 vaccine in both instances, choosing instead to treat it via holistic methods.
“I felt like I was secure in treating myself or not treating myself,” Thybulle said, “and going to the doctors I have to treat COVID if I did get it. And in the case that I did, I was able to go about it in my holistic way and I’m able to sit here today healthy and okay because of it.”
Of course, the repercussions are that he’s “ineligible to play” in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto. The Sixers will likely start Danny Green for those road playoff games. That’s the part that eats at Thybulle.
“That was really hard,” Thybulle said of telling his teammates. “Like I said, I made this decision a while ago where this situation that I’m facing now was not a factor. It wasn’t a part of any of the decision-making because at the time I would be available for my team, and I would be available to play and not restricted in any way to do my job.”
Thybulle continued: “And having had the stance that I’ve had for almost a year now, I just felt like it couldn’t be something that I could be forced to do because of rules or regulation changes, and it seemed like the right thing to do for me to just see it through. And, unfortunately, the repercussions of that are going to be me missing games and me not being there for my teammates.”
Teammates Support Thybulle’s Personal Decision
Some people have called Thybulle selfish for refusing to get vaccinated. His absence could cause the Sixers to lose a game or two in the postseason, perhaps even swing the momentum of the entire Toronto series. If that’s the case, his teammates aren’t saying it out loud. Everyone seems to have Thybulle’s back.
“Tisse is definitely, he feels a way about it,” Shake Milton said. “I just tell him I support him. I know everybody else on this team supports him and it’s kind of been the story of this season anyway. This whole year has been next man up. I know we’re going to be prepared [for Toronto]. We’re going to be ready, everybody’s looking forward to it. We’re ready.”