After Nets player Kyrie Irving shared his thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine, the team is banning him from participating in games until he becomes fully vaccinated. According to USA Today, the team’s general manager Sean Marks released a full statement on Tuesday morning, saying that while he is a part-time player on the team, Irving will not be allowed to hit the court at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden.
Breaking: Nets GM Sean Marks announced that Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is “eligible to be a full participant.” pic.twitter.com/qMLRNfwk39
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 12, 2021
“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,” Marks’ statement reads. “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.”
New York City’s vaccine mandate prohibits any member of the New York Knicks or the New York Nets to play in either arena if they are not vaccinated. The team originally put a plan in place that would allow Irving to play in certain away games. He would be paid for each of the games but would lose money for each missed event, totaling about $400,000 per game.
“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,” Marks continued.
“We’re looking at putting a group of people out there that are going to be able to participate fully, and that’s what this comes down to,” Marks said. “We’re not looking for partners that are going to be half-time. I don’t think that would be fair not only to the team, staff ownership and fans, but to be quite frank, not fair on Kyrie either when you’re putting somebody out there who potentially can’t get the right ramp-ups and build-ups and so forth and look as good as he or the team should.”
Marks declined to say whether he felt the star player was leaning toward getting vaccinated due to the pressure, saying that he “didn’t want to speak for him.”
According to The Hill, a change of heart isn’t likely, as he’s publicly spoken on multiple occasions about his aversion to taking the vaccine. He joins a small group of star players, including the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins, Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who’ve also declined to get vaccinated.
Irving has until Oct. 19, when the Nets will open their season in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks, to receive the vaccine.
“The hope is that we have Kyrie back. We’ll welcome back in open arms under a different set of circumstances so we need to wait and see how that transpires. But in the meantime, we need to focus on the 16 players that are going to be on this roster moving forward. … Without a doubt, losing a player of Kyrie’s caliber hurts from a talent perspective, no question. I’m not going to deny that,” Marks told reporters.