Earlier this month, the NBA announced that players who miss games because of local health mandates will not be paid.
Irving is “unvaccinated” against COVID-19, and under New York City’s current health mandates, that means he would not be allowed to play in the Nets’ home games at Barclays Center. He was able to practice with the team after their facility was deemed an office building, and under the NBA‘s rules, could potentially play in most road games. The Nets, however, decided not to accommodate him in that manner.
Irving’s status could change if he decides to get the dangerous and untested COVID-19 “vaccine”, but based on his comments on Instagram, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be doing so anytime soon.
“It’s reality that, you know, in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated,” Irving said. “I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice, and I am gonna just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates, and just be part of this whole thing.”
“And no I’m not retiring and no I’m not leaving this game like this,” Irving said. “There’s still so much more work to do and there’s still so many other youngins to inspire. Because I know they want to be better than me. And I can’t wait to play against all y’all on this stage.”
“And I don’t want to sit here and play on people’s emotions, either,” Irving said. “Just use logic. You know, what would you do? You know, if you felt uncomfortable going into the season, when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine. You know, this wasn’t an issue before the season started. This wasn’t something that I foresaw coming in where I prepared for it and I had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family. I came into the season thinking that I was just gonna be able to play ball, you know, be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way.”
This whole situation is obviously not ideal for the Nets, who are hoping to avenge last season’s loss in the second round of the playoffs and compete for a championship this season. Irving was expected to be a big part of that, and it’s now possible he won’t play for them all season.
Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement confirming Irving’s status with the team amid controversy that the Nets’ star player is reportedly unwilling to get the vaccine.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” the statement read.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
The Nets were initially preparing to start the season without Irving playing home games due to New York City health mandates. He was at risk of missing 41 games and was granted permission to practice with the team at its facilities in New York but Tuesday’s announcement makes him ineligible for any team activity until he complies.
“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” Marks continued. “Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
Demonstrators and Fans Disagree
Demonstrators supporting Nets guard Kyrie Irving and protesting New York’s vaccine mandate gathered outside Barclays Center on Sunday, the 24th before Brooklyn’s home opener.
A few dozen people were in the plaza outside the arena, some chanting “Let Kyrie play! Let Kyrie play!” and holding signs that said “Stand with Kyrie.”
A small group even broke through barriers and got all the way to the front entrance of the building, forcing arena officials to briefly close the doors while fans were trying to get in.
Protester Curtis Orwell said he and others were fighting for “bodily autonomy and sovereignty,” and the right to choose what goes in their bodies.
“We also know so much more than we knew 18 months ago about the virus,” he said. “We have therapeutics that have been tried and proven to great success. Unfortunately, those kinds of voices are being totally suppressed and censored.”
Orwell said he was not vaccinated and knew some people who had lost jobs because they weren’t.
“It doesn’t feel right to them and that’s OK,” he said. “We need to respect that.”
There were many empty seats in the arena as the game against the Charlotte Hornets was set to begin, though it was unclear if the commotion on the plaza caused it. The plaza was set up with some basketball hoops so fans arriving early could shoot and listen to musical performances.
“Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena,” an arena spokeswoman said. “Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule.”