Nets' Kyrie Irving Says 'Don't Believe I'm Retiring' Due to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIOctober 14, 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 went on Instagram Live and discussed a number of topics related to his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which in turn has led to his team keeping him away from games and practices.

Anthony Puccio of Sports Section relayed some of Irving's comments:

Anthony Puccio @APOOCH

“Don’t believe I’m retiring, don’t believe I’m giving up this game for a vaccine mandate.” <br><br>- <a href="https://twitter.com/KyrieIrving?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KyrieIrving</a> on Instagram Live <a href="https://t.co/8pWkieZ9KP">pic.twitter.com/8pWkieZ9KP</a>

Of note, Irving cleared up that he's not retiring because of the New York City vaccine mandate, which in part states that everyone going to an indoor gym must have at least one COVID-19 dose.

That precludes Irving from playing home games at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The Nets then made a decision to keep Irving away from practices and games, making it clear that they did not want to have a part-time player.

A team statement read in part:

“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, 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."

The door is open for Irving to return if he chooses to get the vaccine. For now, the Nets are scheduled to begin their season Tuesday versus the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Among other things, Irving also said, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic:

"I'm standing with all those that believe what is right. Everybody is entitled to do what they feel is what's best for themselves. Seeing the way this is dividing our world up...it's sad to see...People are losing jobs to mandates."

Irving added that he supports anyone who chooses to get the vaccine and that he is praying for anyone who has lost someone to COVID-19.

Ninety-five percent of NBA players were vaccinated as of Sept. 30, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard spoke to why he got the vaccine:

"I'm not mad at people for saying, 'I need to do my research,' or they got to take the steps that make them comfortable. But I have a lot of people in my family that I'm tight with and I spend a lot of time around and I'm just not going to put their health or their lives in danger because I want to do research. As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life. Before I went to college, I had to get shots. And, I couldn't tell you one thing about any of them."

He added:

"I've had people in my family actually die and people actually lose their lives to it, and there's a way for me to protect myself and the people that I love, I'm going to do it. It's pretty simple."

The WNBA has led the professional sports charge with 99 percent of its players vaccinated as of June 28, per Yahoo Sports' Cassandra Negley.


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