When the Broklyn Nets begin their preseason on Oct. 8, the NBA team may be forced to play without superstar Kyrie Irving, who is reportedly not vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. Any games played in New York, inside, will be problematic.
Because of New York’s decision that all athletes must be vaccinated to play, Irving and other unvaccinated players will not be able to play home games indoors at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, cutting their available games in half.
Appearing on Zoom during a Nets media day on Monday, Kyrie Irving refused to confirm reports that he was unvaccinated and attempted to downplay the controversy around his decision.
Asking for “privacy,” Irving said that it “doesn’t mean that I’m putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team.”
Despite this, fellow teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden were able to appear inside in person. They told reporters that they hoped Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status would not affect his ability to play, addressing that they were not overly concerned with the drama being ramped up ahead of the preseason.
“I expect it not to be an issue,” Kevin Durant said. “That’s on Kyrie and that’s his personal decision. What he does is not on us to speculate what may happen. We trust in Kyrie, and I expect us to have our whole team at some point.”
“Obviously Ky is a huge part of what we’re trying to do,” James Harden told reporters, hoping that Kyrie would explain his situation to reporters on Monday’s Nets media day.
According to many sports analysts and NBA projections, the Brooklyn Nets are one of top teams going into the 2021-2022 season. If Kyrie Irving is to miss home games due to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, it might heavily impact their chance at the championship title.
“I don’t want to create any more drama, that’s not what I’m here for,” Kyrie Irving said on Monday’s Zoom call. “I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team… I’m doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart.”
Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, told reporters that she hoped the NBA could make some sort of exception for Kyrie, alleging that it wasn’t due to a religious exemption but a “moral-based” exemption. According to The New York Post, Tyki Ivring follows an Instagram user who claims that the vaccine is “fulfilling prophecy of Satan’s ultimate plan to enslave the human soul.”
It remains unclear why Kyrie Irving is against the vaccine. He asked for “privacy” whenever a question about his status or motives was brought forward.
In San Francisco, where there is a similar vaccination mandate, Warriors player Andrew Wiggins was recently denied religious exemption. The New York Knicks, who play in the same state as the Brooklyn Nets, have reportedly all been vaccinated and are ready to play.
According to Rolling Stone, 50 to 60 NBA players are still unvaccinated. After interviewing many of the players, they found that a “Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats.”
NBA Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighed in last month, stating his belief that, “the NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team.
“There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research,” he said. “if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
The first preseason home game for the Nets is against the Lakers on Oct. 8.