Kyrie Irving Admits He ‘Wasn’t Prepared’ For Vaccine Mandate Consequences

'I knew the consequences'

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For the first time since the preseason, Kyrie Irving on Wednesday was able to practice with the Brooklyn Nets.

The team decided to let him to be a part-time participant for practices and road games after COVID-19 hit its locker room and led to the postponement of three games. Irving also landed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols during the intake process, but has been cleared now that the league has reduced its quarantine period.

The point guard spoke about being barred from basketball due to his vaccine status after his first day back, admitting that even he couldn’t predict how it played out.

“I knew the consequences,” Irving told reporters, via SNY Nets. “I wasn’t prepared for them by no stretch of the imagination. Coming into the season, I had my thought process on being a full-time teammate and just going out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball. But unfortunately it didn’t happen like that. Things happen for a reason. We are here and I am just grateful for this.”

Irving did not change his stance on getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but the team did change theirs on allowing him to be a part-time player. Outbreaks occurred despite the league being 97% vaccinated, and with full support of players like Kevin Durant and James Harden, the coaching staff and executives were on board to bring Irving back.

Irving seemed at peace with their reasoning and said there were no hard feelings.

“I wouldn’t really call it a change of heart,” Irving said. “Like I said, I respected their decision. You know, it’s either you’re all-in or unfortunately, you’re gonna have to wait on the sidelines until things either calm down with the mandate or some of these cases and we just want everybody to remain safe and they remain healthy. And that was the reasoning behind it. And I understood that and I respected it. But with James (Harden) and (Kevin Durant), they’ve always been supportive. You know, us getting together at this time in our careers, we want to take full advantage of it we have a lot more, a lot more left in the tank. Obviously our age between us three, us being at a certain level of mastery in this game, is only gonna last for a certain amount of time. So we want to strike while the iron was hot. We wanted to bring in a lot of great guys, a great group of guys that really supported our veteran leadership. And when you throw in a state mandate that everyone has to follow it’s not up to them. It’s not up to the team, it’s really a state mandate. So I didn’t put too much pressure on them. They didn’t put too much pressure on me and we just respected each other’s boundaries, along with everyone else on the team and now we’re here and they were able to just be supportive of just allowing me to be available for road games. That was the goal once the state mandate came in — it didn’t work in October, but now that we’re here I’m praying that it works.”

By all accounts, Irving was engaged and in great shape for not having played, and the team will allow him to ramp up a bit in practice before seeing game action. He’ll have an opportunity to do that the next three games as the Nets play in New York City at the Barclays Center, where he is ineleigible.

Brooklyn then travels to Indiana on Jan. 5, so circle the Pacers game for a potential Irving return.

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