Kyrie Irving will not practice or play with the Brooklyn Nets until he is allowed to be a full participant, general manager Sean Marks announced Tuesday:
"Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough evaluation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant. Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability."
Irving remains unvaccinated against COVID-19, making him ineligible to play Nets home games under New York City mandates. People in New York City must have at least one COVID-19 shot to enter bars, restaurants and other indoor venues like basketball arenas.
A recent ruling allowed Irving to practice with the Nets at their facility, and he would have been eligible for most road games. However, it appears the team has no interest in allowing Irving to play under his own set of rules and be a part-time participant.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccinated individuals are also eight times less likely to contract COVID-19 and 25 times less likely to experience hospitalization or die from the virus.
Widespread vaccination is seen as the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Irving has refused to discuss his vaccination status publicly, calling it a private matter. That private matter has become a source of public record and put the Nets, considered the NBA championship favorite, in a position to potentially play the 2021-22 season without one of their three stars.
"We have a pretty collaborative environment. I think we will weigh in, discuss it and make sure we're making a decision that suits the group," Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters Monday.
Based on Nash's quote, it seems he, along with Kevin Durant and James Harden, were among the people consulted in the decision to bar Irving from playing or practicing. If Irving does return to the team this season, it'll be worth watching to see if the decision does harm to his relationship with his two co-stars or the franchise.
Other prominent players like Jonathan Isaac and Bradley Beal have disclosed they are unvaccinated but will be eligible to play because their local government does not have a ban similar to New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.