Brooklyn Nets All-Star goalie Kyrie Irving has defended his decision not to get the coronavirus shot as ‘what’s best’ for him, after team officials said he wouldn’t be allowed to train or play with the team without being vaccinated.
Nets announcement earlier this week that Irving, 29, would not be on the squad until he could “be a full participant.”
He is not eligible to play at home games for the Nets in New York, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on one of the city’s teams to be vaccinated to train or play in public places. .
Speaking on Instagram Live on Wednesday, Irving said he loves basketball and is not going to retire.
“I’m doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if that means I’m being judged and demonized for it, that’s exactly what it is, ”he said. “This is the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just during this tenure.
Irving could have trained with the Nets and participated in road games outside of New York. The Nets will pay him for these, but he’s giving up about half of his $ 35 million salary by missing home games.
“So what? It’s not about the money,” Irving said. “It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what works best for you. really want to lose money?
“Do you think I really want to lose money? Do you think I really want to give up my dream of chasing a championship? Do you think I really want to quit my job? You think I really want to stay home and not deal with things with my teammates… ”
– Kyrie pic.twitter.com/gV6BDK357j
– NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 14, 2021
His comments come amid continued concerns about the spread of the Delta variant and persistent reluctance to vaccinate among Americans. Local officials and President Joe Biden’s administration have responded in recent weeks with vaccination warrants.
The Biden administration said on Wednesday those warrants were working.
At a White House press briefing, officials said vaccination rates increased by more than 20 percentage points after several establishments vaccines adopted, while the number of cases and deaths from the virus is falling.
Officials said 77% of eligible Americans have received at least one blow to date and rates have increased thanks to mandates put in place by private companies, health systems, social institutions, and state and local governments. .
But vaccine resistance remains a challenge, and institutions have put in place restrictions for those who insist on staying unvaccinated.
NBA players who are not vaccinated will have to comply with a long list of restrictions to participate in the upcoming season, which is scheduled to begin on October 19.
On Wednesday, Irving said his final decision to get the shot would have nothing to do with the Nets – or the New York tenure. “It’s not about the Nets, it’s not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not about politics,” he said.
“It’s not just anything. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.
If he doesn’t play this season, he could lose more than $ 17 million in salary for the games allegedly played in Brooklyn and Madison Square Garden.
In a statement Tuesday announcing that Irving would not be able to participate with the team, Nets general manager Sean Marks said: “Kyrie has made a personal choice and we respect her individual right to choose.”
“Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team and we will not allow any member of our team to participate with part-time availability,” said Marks.
Brooklyn is considered a contender for the NBA Championship, with Irving completing a solid Top 3 for the Nets alongside stars Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Harden said on Wednesday that he and Durant spoke to staff involved in the Irving decision and that all parties were in agreement.
“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, ”he said.
Nets coach Steve Nash also said the decision was “difficult” but “a good one and one that makes 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,” Nash said. “It was a tricky situation to have a player come in and out like that. There is more clarity, and we can focus on the future and move forward.