Kyrie Irving leaves Nets fans hanging with COVID vaccine stance, is a trade the next step?
Kyrie Irving was the voice to represent the NBA’s unvaccinated players, despite staying silent on the matter…that is until now. On Wednesday night, the seven-time All-Star finally broke his silence on what has become the NBA’s biggest story over the last few weeks. To catch you up to speed, New York has a local law requiring New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets players to be vaccinated in order to hoop.
All of the Knicks and Nets reportedly got the jab, but Irving has not. As of now, he would be forced to sit out for all home games, and docked pay for those contests. The Nets decided to disallow Irving from appearing in road games as well, sending the message the team will not tolerate part-time players. They’ve even reportedly pulled a possible max-extension off the table, furthering their hardball stance with the talented point guard.
It’s left everyone wondering why Irving won’t take the shot and if that stance will change.
Here is some of what Irving had to offer on Wednesday night, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
Kyrie Irving discussed retirement rumors on Instagram LIVE. pic.twitter.com/4b8d18c1jG
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) October 14, 2021
Fans care about Irving’s reasoning for not wanting to take the vaccine, which has proven very effective at reducing the severity of illness from COVID-19 and its variants. Hospitalizations and death rates dramatically fall after a full dose. Whether he likes it or not, Irving is a role model and his stance will have an impact on people. He was already a bit of a polarizing figure, and now he’s generating some support and a lot more vitriol from people with strong takes on this issue.
Many reading this are straight up hoops junkies and you just want to know if the dude whose handles are so sick it sometimes looks like the ball is on a string is going to play. To that, Irving offered this:
“Nobody’s going to take the power away from me that I have for speaking on these things,” said the Nets point guard. “Don’t believe that I’m retiring. Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don’t believe any of that s–t, man.”
Well if you want to see Irving play, him saying he’s not going to let anyone take away the game he loves is good news. If you were worried he might up and retire over this issue this is more good news. If you were worried he’d sit out all season this is good news.
But it does raise some questions. What exactly is he going to change so that he can play for the Nets this season? To that end, we got some mixed signals.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, on CNN Thursday:
"I'm told that Kyrie has no plans to get vaccinated. … He's leaving another $16M on the table as well as a potential $185M extension, so he stands to lose about $200M." — @ShamsCharania pic.twitter.com/6xYWVyHfqY
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 14, 2021
So doing the math here… he says he’s not going to retire. He’s not going to let a vaccine or mandate take away the game from him. But he wants to stand up for those who are losing their jobs based on mandates. That leaves playing in another city as the logical solution. Reading these tea leaves, it certainly won’t be a shock if we begin to hear rumors which would land Irving in a city that doesn’t require players to be vaccinated (only New York and San Francisco do as of now). And until Nets fans have some sense of a possible return, they’ll continue to have more questions than clarity on this whole crazy situation.