Nets Forcing Kyrie Irving To Get Vaccine, Or Sit

The Brooklyn Nets have taken the vaccination controversy to a new level and said they are not comfortable with guard Kyrie Irving only playing in half the team’s games due to his vaccination status.

Nets General Manager Sean Marks said Tuesday the team decided Irving may not practice or play with the group until he can be a “full participant.”

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability," Marks said in the statement. "It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”

ESPN's Malika Andrews reports that Marks told reporters he is “not looking for partners who will be part-time.” Adding that it would not be fair to the group or to Irving. Marks said the decision was made by himself and team governor Joe Tsai.

“The hope is we will welcome Kyrie Irving back with open arms under different circumstances," Marks said.

Marks said that Irving will lose salary for home games he missed while ineligible to play, but NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts said last week she is prepared to fight the league on withholding pay of the players who can’t play due to vaccination status.

Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed just days ago that Irving’s infringement of New York City’s vaccine mandate — which prohibits gathering in a sports venue without proof of vaccination — will keep Irving sidelined for home games in the upcoming season, with Barclays Center specified as a venue that won’t host any unvaccinated individuals.

Last week, the Nets listed Irving as out/ineligible for Friday’s preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks as he remains unvaccinated. It marked the first home game Irving missed due to NYC’s vaccination requirement.

The NBA does not require players to get vaccinated, but a vast majority already have been. The leaguewide rate is now around 95% when counting those who are now at least in the vaccination process, reports.

Players who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccination will be tested far more often than their vaccinated colleagues and face significantly more restrictions like not being able to eat in the same room with vaccinated teammates or staff, having lockers as far away from vaccinated players as possible and staying masked and at least six feet away from all other attendees in any team meeting.

In early September, ESPN reported the proposed rules are not final and subject to ongoing talks with the players association, but the guidelines make it clear that vaccinated and unvaccinated players will have very different off-court experiences during the upcoming season.

Unvaccinated players in markets with local COVID restrictions will now be banned from arenas unless they have a medical or religious exemption. Players on the Warriors (San Francisco), Nets (New York), or Knicks (New York) who have not been vaccinated won’t be allowed to play in their home arenas.

The NBA informed teams at the end of August that all coaches and staff members — and game night staff that work within 15 feet of players or referees — must be fully vaccinated. OutKick previously reported the NBA and the referee’s union announced an agreement for all referees to be vaccinated, as well.

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