On the same day that the Brooklyn Nets told Kyrie Irving he couldn’t play until he can be a full participant, a report suggests he won’t be changing his mind about not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Team governor Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks made the decision not to provide the seven-time All-Star with special treatment when it came to practicing with the team, as New York City’s vaccine requirement makes him ineligible to play in home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Shams Charania of The Athletic on Tuesday shared what his sources close to Irving are saying about why the guard is taking this stance:
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.
Until New York City Hall eases its mandates, Irving would miss out on more than $16 million in salary this season, along with a $186 million extension with the Nets.
Irving already has created generational wealth for his family, though, so that never seemed to be a concern for him.
Now, he’ll have to decide whether to remain with Brooklyn or potentially force his own way out. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Tuesday reported the Nets would love to trade him had Irving not already threatened to retire if they did. And who knows how that would be received by their other stars, Kevin Durant and James Harden, who publicly support their friend’s personal decision.
There’s no way this drama ends here.