Nets' Kyrie Irving Says He 'Wasn't Prepared' for Consequences of Going Unvaccinated

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2021

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 13: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 2, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13 2021 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images).
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving gave an honest assessment of his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021-22 season.

"I knew the consequences," Irving told reporters Wednesday. "I wasn't prepared for them by any stretch of the imagination."

Local restrictions prevent Irving from competing within New York City because he is unvaccinated, and the Nets determined in October he wouldn't be allowed to participate as a part-time player for the team. The organization reversed its course earlier this month, allowing him to return for road games where eligible.

After immediately entering the health and safety protocols, Irving was cleared to rejoin the team on Tuesday.

"We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster," general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Irving had initially explained his decision not to get vaccinated was based on his objection to vaccine mandates.

"Nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies," he said in an Instagram live, via Scooby Axson of USA Today.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported in October 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."

The decision to remain unvaccinated will still cost him about $380,000 per game missed, about $15 million of his $35 million salary for 2021-22, per ESPN's Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps.

Adding in the blowback Irving has received for his stance, the consequences have been significant.