Kyrie Irving has his own opinions on mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccinations, and while he keeps most of his thoughts close to the vest and hidden behind cryptic tweets and the like, the NBA has forced the player’s hands by implementing guidelines that seriously restrict unvaccinated players.
Andrew Wiggins has already tested the waters and his religious exemption was denied by the NBA. His refusal to be vaccinated could cost him more than $350,000 per game and he wouldn’t be able to participate in home games.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Kyrie’s aunt says her nephew could potentially skip home games instead of getting the COVID vaccine. New York City is one of the municipalities with a vaccine mandate of at least one dose for people 12 and older to attend large indoor gatherings.
Kyrie, who hasn’t revealed his vaccination status but obviously isn’t vaccinated yet, may have no choice but to sit out home games. His absence could become very problematic for the Nets who have constructed their team to win a championship this season.
Irving is a huge part of the Big Three stars of the team along with Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Irving was not in attendance with the rest of his teammates at Nets media day at Barclays center on Monday, and, according to NBA reporter Brian Windhorst Irving, couldn’t attend because he wasn’t in compliance with NYC’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
He did speak to the media via Zoom but declined to reveal his vaccination status or what his plans were to address the issue going forward.
"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"
Kyrie speaks on his vaccination status at Nets media day pic.twitter.com/qsMWhFgNgX
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 27, 2021
“I’m not able to 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,” Irving said through the videoconferencing app.
Irving streamed the press conference on his Instagram, and added some more commentary after the presser concluded.
“You gotta make sure you respect privacy,” Irving said. “I don’t want to create any more drama, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m going to continue to inspire and lead in the right way. Don’t say I never did anything for y’all. I hope y’all enjoyed that.”
Windhorst says that according to his sources Irving planned to fly with the team to San Diego later on Monday to take part in their training camp this week and that he would be able to play in their first preseason game on Sunday in Los Angeles.
“Going forward,” said Windhorst, “ it isn’t clear what Irving’s plan is or how he would be able to practice with the team here in Brooklyn or playing games in New York.”
Irving’s gotten a huge bag in his two years with the Nets, but he’s missed 70 games for one reason or another.
The Nets have still managed to maintain a winning record without him (39-31) and average 117 points per game. But it’s no secret that the Nets need him healthy and available to bring a ring back to BK.
The last thing the Nets need are off-the-court distractions affecting the team. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, but Kyrie hasn’t completely ruled out getting vaccinated. We guess he’s just doing it at his own pace.
His teammates are under the impression that Kyrie’s vaccination status won’t be a problem. Durant said, “I expect it not to be an issue” at his media day interview.
Nets fans hope he’s right.