Brooklyn Nets Won't Play Kyrie Irving Due To Vaccination Requirement
The team released a statement saying Irving won't play with the team or join practices this season until he is eligible to be a full participant.
Kyrie Irving can continue to choose not to be vaccinated for COVID-19. He just won't play for the Brooklyn Nets until he is.
The Nets announced Tuesday that Irving would not play or practice with them until he could be a full participant, ending the idea that he would play in only road games.
Irving hasn't said he isn’t vaccinated, asking for privacy when he spoke via Zoom during the team’s media day on Sept. 27.
But he had rarely been with the team in New York, where a mandate requires professional athletes playing for a team in the city have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play or practice in public venues.
“Kyrie’s made it clear that he has a choice in this matter and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides,” general manager Sean Marks said. “We respect the fact that he has a choice, he can make his own and right now what’s best for the organization is the path that we’re taking.”
Teams aren't allowed to reveal private details of players' health. But asked Tuesday if Irving was vaccinated, Marks said: “If he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s probably pretty clear.”
Marks said he and owner Joe Tsai together made the decision, adding that it came through discussions with Irving and his associates.
“Kyrie loves to play basketball, wants to be out there, wants to be participating with his teammates,” Marks said. “But again, this is a choice that Kyrie had and he was well aware of that.”
Irving wasn't even eligible to practice with the Nets in New York until Friday, when the city told the team that its training facility was considered a private venue.
Irving then joined the team at an outdoor practice Saturday and worked out with the team Sunday, but didn't play in Brooklyn's exhibition game at Philadelphia on Monday.
NBA players are not required to be vaccinated, but they face more testing and restrictions on their ability to be around their teammates. The league had said that players wouldn't be paid for games they miss because they are ineligible to play.
Coach Steve Nash had said that the Nets knew they were going to be missing Irving for some games. For now, at least, it will be all of them.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.
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