The New York Nets NBA basketball team announced on Tuesday that one of the team’s key players, guard Kyrie Irving, will not be allowed to play or practice until he gets the COVID vaccination.
Irving has made his vaccine refusal a matter of personal choice. He says he’s upset about people losing their jobs because of the mandate and wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.” And now the Nets have banned him from participating.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of Irving’s decision have told The Athletic that Irving is not anti-vaccine and that his stance is that he is upset that people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates. It’s a stance that Irving has explained to close teammates. To him, this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and people’s livelihood, according to sources with knowledge of Irving’s mindset. It is a decision that he believes he is capable to make given his current life dynamics.
According to The Athletic, 96 percent of NBA players are vaccinated. Irving is the most prominent holdout, but Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins has also refused to get vaccinated, citing a religious objection. His status to play in games is still being decided.
It was originally thought that since some cities with NBA teams don’t have mandates for indoor activities, Irving would be able to play about half the games. But the Nets scratched that idea when they said they won’t allow a “part-time player.”
“Kyrie has made it clear he has a choice in this matter, and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides,” Marks said. “We respect the fact that he has a choice and he can make his own right to choose. Right now, what’s best for the organization is the path we are taking, and I don’t want to speak for Kyrie. At the right time, I’m sure he will address his feelings and what the path may be for him.”
But while Irving’s path may be undetermined, Brooklyn decided Tuesday that, a week before the Nets are set to open the NBA season with a game in Milwaukee against the defending champion Bucks, its path was not going to feature Irving until his vaccination status changes.
Irving’s position is nuanced and thoughtful. He says he’s not opposed to vaccines for medical reasons. Rather, he opposes the mandates.
Of course, that doesn’t fit with the media’s “anti-vaccine” narrative. In fact, some are positively hysterical about Irving’s stance.
Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins is beside herself.
You might ask yourself, in your dull and foolish way, if Irving is really so much smarter than everyone else — smarter than all the science that shows vaccinated people are less likely to breathe the virus hell on others? Or are these revealing statements of arrogance from someone whose condescension and self-regard are such that he would look at spray paint on a concrete wall and tell you he can read hieroglyphs if he thinks it will make him sound important?
“The virus hell”? Really? Get a grip, gal.
Meanwhile, the NBA Players Association is supporting Irving.
The NBPA has offered their support for Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, and all other players from around the league that are standing against the COVID-19 vaccine. NBPA executive director Michelle Roberts has sounded off on reports that the Players Association is getting behind the NBA’s decision to withhold pay from players who miss games because of their vaccination status.
The league, the teams, and the cities will not make exceptions for their mandates. This, they’ve made very clear. So it looks like Kyrie Irving won’t be playing basketball this year in America unless he changes his mind and gets vaccinated.