The Brooklyn Nets have banned 29-year-old Kyrie Irving from both games and practice until he gets the Covid-19 vaccine, just one week before the team kicks off their regular season against the Bucks.
The star point and shooting guard will even be barred from playing during away games – the vast majority which will be held in locations where there is no local vaccine mandate. The Nets said they won’t allow Irving to be deemed “part-time” in terms of his availability for games.
The move comes after Irving missed Monday’s preseason loss to the 76ers (115-104) over his refusal to get the jab.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” said the team in a statement. “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.”
The mostly word-salad statement continues:
“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.”
Irving earns more than $400,000 per game – and forfeited some $817,000 in salary in January after missing two games to take part in a league-ordered quarantine after attending a birthday party in a club. He earned around $35 million last season, and was slated to earn $36.6 million this year – the last year of his contract.
It’s widely believed that Irving remains the only member of the Nets to not be vaccinated. It was noticed in the media early this week that he didn’t travel with the team for the missed pre-season game. According to ESPN, “The Nets are prevented by law from revealing whether Irving has been vaccinated, but the team’s statement is a strong indication he has not met New York’s vaccination requirement.”
It was already made clear that the Nets star wouldn’t be able to play home games in New York without being vaccinated, given Barclays Center in Brooklyn has a mandate in place that all people entering the arena provide proof of vaccination, including players, coaches, and all staff.
A handful of NBA players have recently issued public pushback amid the mandates and growing league pressure to get the Covid shot…
Late last month the NBA declared that any player missing a game due to being unvaccinated would not be paid for those games.