A day after the Nets decided not to allow their starting point guard to train or play with them until he complies with New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Nash and star guard James harden said they would happily welcome Irving’s return, but are ready to move on for now.
“Everyone had their say,” Nash told reporters after the Nets practiced the decision-making process. “It takes time to make decisions like this. It’s a tough decision. But I think it was a good decision and made sense to everyone.
“We’re just going to move on and if things change it would be amazing to get him back in the fold. It was a sticky situation to have a player come in and out like that. There is more clarity and we can focus on the future and go for it. “
Managing Director Sean Marks announced Tuesday that he and Nets owner Joe Tsai have decided to end the uncertainty surrounding Irving and not let him join the team until he receives at least one vaccine, as required by the New York mandate to play in New York. Irving was allowed to train with the Nets at their private premises in Brooklyn, but couldn’t participate in any game in New York unless he received at least one vaccine.
Harden said that he and Kevin Durant has spoken with the parties involved in the decision and that he wants to win a championship and thinks the organization is aligned.
“Sean [Marks], Steve [Nash], me, KD, Kyrie, we’ve all had conversations, “Harden told reporters.” Kyrie believes in his beliefs and he stands firm and strong on it. And for us, we respect it. We all love Ky. But as far as we’re concerned, we have a job to do.
“Individually, myself, I always want to prepare for a championship,” continued Harden. “And I feel like the whole organization is on the same path and we are all in the same boat as a collective unit.”
Nash said the management decision allows the team to finally focus on what lies ahead without constant uncertainty, which could put “extra pressure” on the Nets and their title aspirations.
“For guys it’s important not to have the uncertainty, I think,” Nash said. “It’s not kind of hanging over us. A decision has been made and I think it can be beneficial for us to start to really build and understand that this is what is happening instead of we were living in a very uncertain world. We weren’t sure overnight what was going to change or what was going to happen. It can be difficult and it can put extra pressure on everyone.
Harden said the players now know their roles for the future and that includes a bit more on the shoulders of the two big Nets stars.
“I don’t have a say in this,” Harden said of the Irving decision. “I can only express my opinion and we have to keep moving forward. Obviously we would love to have Kyrie here.”
Harden later added, “We still have two pretty good leaders on the team. You know what I mean? And obviously Ky is our leader too. We still have myself and Kevin [Durant]. [We] have to lead what we’re pretty good at at it and go out there and be great every night. “