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Never one to hold his tongue, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley sounded off on Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Barkley appeared on NBA on TNT ahead of the season opener between the Nets and Bucks on Tuesday night and said that he’s bothered by Irving’s stance not to get vaccinated.
“First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people,” Barkley said. “I got vaccinated, I can’t wait to get the booster… You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second. That’s what bothers me about this whole thing.”
Barkley’s comments about Irving have been echoed by most of the mainstream media, though players such as Warriors forward Draymond Green have come out in support of unvaccinated players.
The Nets are restricting Irving from playing until he can be a “full participant.” In other words, Irving must get the jab or sit at home. Irving said on his Instagram Live last week that he’s prepared to sit out and lose money for his beliefs.
“This is about my life and what I am choosing to do. The financial consequences, I know I do not want to even do that,” Irving said. “But it is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice.”
Barkley commended the Nets for their decision to bench Irving, saying that he needs to be all in or get out.
“I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down,” Barkley said. “For saying no, we’re not going to deal with this half on, half off (situation). The only thing that bugs me is he’s still going to make $17 million sitting at home.”
The outcry against Irving’s personal decision has been appalling. The same people calling him out are the same ones who preach about respecting everyone’s opinion on all other topics. Barkley and so many others are treating the vaccine like some kind of gummy bear that doesn’t have negative side effects. While there are positive effects as well, every person should decide whether to take the vaccine, without fear of ridicule.
The country has gone from red vs. blue, to pro-vax vs anti-vax, yet another separation tactic that’s been fueled by the media. The Irving saga is yet another example of that, and Barkley and his prominent voice just called him out on live TV.