Questions Looming Over Kyrie Irving’s Resistance To Vaccination
The Kyrie Irving vaccination saga has persisted despite the start of the 2021-22 NBA season being less than two weeks away. The seven-time All-Star’s resistance to getting vaccinated has been an ongoing headache for the Brooklyn Nets organization as well as a distraction for a team with championship ambitions.
According to NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, “the Nets remain unclear on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s ultimate intentions to get vaccinated and have made no decision on whether the organization will accommodate him as a part-time player this season.”
New York is currently enforcing a mandate requiring vaccination for all athletes who play or practice in the city.
It may be possible the Nets will decide to completely sideline Irving, which would be an obvious blow to the team given the value he’s able to provide offensively. Last season, ‘Uncle Drew’ became just the ninth player in NBA history to join the exclusive 50-40-90 club, joining the ranks of shooters such as Steph Curry, Larry Bird, and Irving’s head coach, Steve Nash.
The Nets held their first practice yesterday at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn after holding the start of their training camp in San Diego. The team will practice again today and Thursday in preparation for their second preseason game this Friday.
However, Irving, who practiced with the team in San Diego, will not be able to participate until he receives a dose of a vaccine to protect himself, and other members of the organization, from COVID-19. Nash asserted that the Nets will not practice outside of NYC to accommodate Irving.
“No, this is our home, this is where we’re going to practice and we have almost a whole group,” he said. “So that’s a positive, and we’re just working at getting better every day and focusing on the things we can control.”
An agreement negotiated by the NBA and the Players Union states that players will be docked 1/91.6th of their salaries for each game missed due to protocol violations. The 29-year-old, who is set to make $35.3 million this season, would thus potentially lose about $380,000 for each home game missed.
During the NBA Media Day, Irving was required to attend the event virtually due to the protocols implemented. Over video call, he explained to the press why he couldn’t attend the event in person alongside his teammates.
“I appreciate your question, bro,” Irving said. “Honestly, I like to keep that stuff private… handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan. So, you know, obviously I’m not able to be present there today. But that doesn’t mean that I’m putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team.”
Unsurprisingly, his selfish justifications have prompted criticism from media members, like the one and only Stephen A Smith. “Kyrie Irving has already leaked from his camp that says, ‘Hey, if I go somewhere else, I’m not playing, I won’t play, I’ll retire,'” Smith tweeted.
"Kyrie Irving has already leaked from his camp that says, 'Hey, if I go somewhere else, I'm not playing. I won't play, I'll retire.'"@realjaywilliams and @stephenasmith react to Kyrie Irving missing Nets media day in person due to New York City coronavirus vaccine requirements. pic.twitter.com/HjaXpDZc1m
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 28, 2021
Despite the organization’s efforts to listen, support, and educate Irving, the Nets may just have to accept the possibility that the NBA Finals must be won without his contribution.