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Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, 29, confirmed that he is unvaccinated and that he will continue to refuse the shot going forward — even as the Nets have announced they will prohibit Irving from all team-related activities because of his vaccination status.
“You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship?” Irving said, via Instagram Live Wednesday evening. “You think I really just want to just give up my job? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I’ve been able to grow with to learn with?”
For weeks, the Nets have faced a quandary since Irving is currently ineligible to play home games at Barclays Center because of New York City’s unwavering COVID-19 vaccine policy. However, he is still eligible to practice.
Kyrie was initially slated to miss 41 home games at Barclays, including away games in New York and San Francisco. In order to pressure him into taking it, the team finally made the decision Tuesday to bar Kyrie from all activities, including away games, until he receives the shot.
Meanwhile, Irving has called out the inconsistent standards for NBA players during his Instagram Live session. He believes that all of them have the right to exercise personal choice and forego vaccination.
“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.”
As reported by OutKick’s Meg Turner, Nets general manager Sean Marks and team governor Joe Tsai made the decision to prohibit Irving from team activities.
“The hope is we will welcome Kyrie Irving back with open arms under different circumstances,” Marks said on Tuesday.
“Individually, myself, I’m still wanting to set myself up for a championship,” Nets point guard James Harden said on Wednesday, regarding the potential of the team missing Irving. “And I feel like the entire organization is on the same path. And we’re all as a collective unit. We’ll keep pushing forward, and we’ll try to do our best every single day to get better and keep going as a collective unit.”
“At least he can practice,” said Nets forward and team leader Kevin Durant, in an interview with CBS-NBA the week prior to the team’s decision. “But, I mean, we want him here for the whole thing. We want him here for games, home games, practices, away games, shootarounds, all of it, so hopefully we figure this thing out.”
Over the weekend, both Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash indicated that the situation with Kyrie would remain fluid until the team had a definite understanding of Irving’s plans on getting, or foregoing, the vaccine.
“I think right now, we assume he’s not going to be available for home games, but anything can change,” said Nash, in an ESPN report. “Who’s to say? The city ordinances could change. Anything could change. Right now we are just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go. “
Currently, visiting unvaccinated players will still be allowed to play at Barclays.
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