NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving will not be allowed to play in the upcoming basketball season until he complies with New York’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks announced in a statement on Tuesday that he was left with “no choice” but to ban Kyrie from participating until it was safe for him to play.
“He had a choice to make, and he made his choice,” Marks said. “My job here is to make what we deem as the best decision and best choices for the organization moving ahead as a whole. They’re not always ones that are going to be met with open arms and a thumbs up.”
Late last month, Kyrie Irving shared his controversial views on the vaccine, as well as his hesitancy to comply to New York’s Covid-19 regulations for athletes.
At the time, fellow teammates James Harden and Kevin Durant thought that the issue would be resolved and that Kyrie would choose to get the vaccine so that he could play with the team.
“We trust in Kyrie, and I expect us to have our whole team at some point,” Durant said in September. Harden later said that the whole reason he came to Brooklyn was to play alongside Kyrie and Durant and shoot for the championship.
According to many sports analysts, the Brooklyn Nets were one of the top teams to take the Championship in the upcoming 2021-2022 season. Last season, the team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, who went on to win the title. Hampered by injuries, sports commentators predicted that had all three stars been healthy, they might have had a better chance.
With Kyrie out, the possibility of the three NBA stars reaching the final has been greatly diminished. In order to cap the potential blowback to the team should the top scorer choose not to comply, it was originally suggested that Kyrie could be able to play away games only, where the Covid-19 rules are different than in New York. General Manager Sean Marks declined.
“This decision came down to what we felt was the right move for the organization at this time,” Marks said on Tuesday. “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.”
“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,” he continued.
When asked if Kyrie Irving was vaccinated, Sean Marks said that, “Well, if he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s probably pretty clear.”
Though clearly angered by Kyrie’s decision, Marks expressed that he respected “the fact that he has a choice and he can make his own right to choose.”
“I don’t want to speak for Kyrie,” he said, assuring fans that “At the right time, I’m sure he will address his feelings and what the path may be for him.”
The decision was escalated when a New York City Hall official informed the team on Friday that Irving could not practice in the facility because it violated the “private workplace” ruling. Irving then did not make the trip with the rest of the team to Philadelphia for their pre-season game against the 76ers.
“We’re just trying to navigate this thing,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “Just trying to take our time to figure out what everything means.
Kevin Durant and James Harden have yet to comment on the decision. Kyrie Irving also has not commented. Soft guard Bruce Brown is expected to step up into a starting role in Kyrie’s place, as well as newly acquired veterans Patty Mills and Paul Millsap.