Report: Kyrie Irving Doesn't Plan to Get Vaccinated After Nets Announce He Won't Play

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIOctober 12, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) as Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) defends during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, June 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has no plans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

That report dropped after Nets general manager Sean Marks announced earlier Tuesday that Irving would not play or practice with the team until he is "eligible to be a full participant."

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Nets GM Sean Marks statement on Brooklyn's decision to sit Kyrie Irving until he fulfills NYC vaccination rules: <a href="https://t.co/4LBIQXt7al">pic.twitter.com/4LBIQXt7al</a>

New York City's vaccination requirement prevents Irving from playing in any home games at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps explained the requirements in a Sept. 1 article:

"In New York, beginning on Sept. 13, anyone over the age of 12 won't be allowed to enter 'certain covered premises' inside the city -- including Barclays Center, home of the Nets, Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks, as well as any other indoor gym or fitness setting -- without providing proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, unless there is an approved medical or religious exemption for them not doing so."

Irving could have played half the season by exclusively suiting up for road games, but the Nets made it clear that they will not have a part-time player.

"We're not looking for partners that are going to be half-time," Marks told reporters.

He also added: "If he was vaccinated, we wouldn't be having this conversation. That's pretty clear."

As far as Irving's stance goes, Charania provided these remarks after speaking with sources:

"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. 'Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless,' one source said."

Irving, a seven-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA player, averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds last year.

Without him, the Nets figure to go with a starting lineup of James Harden, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant and either LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin at center. Harden would run the point.

The Nets are scheduled to open the 2021-22 season next Tuesday against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.