Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving to be shelved until he’s vaccinated against COVID-19
Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving will not take part in any team activities until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, general manager Sean Marks has said.
Irving, 29, has been resisting vaccination, despite a New York City order requiring the shot if he is to play or practice with the team at home this season.
“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 said in on Tuesday.
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“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.
“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 organisation must pull in the same direction.”
The New York mandate prohibits unvaccinated individuals from working in or attending events at many indoor spaces, including entertainment and sporting venues. Similar rules are in place in San Francisco and will go into effect in Los Angeles from November 29.
Irving’s stance potentially could cost him millions. Marks said Irving would not be paid for home games he misses while “ineligible”.
Irving is due $US35.3 million ($A48 million) this season in the third year of a four-year, $US136.5 million ($A185.4 million) deal he signed in 2019.
Marks said the team’s decision, reached together with owner Joe Tsai, is not indicative of a trade and the Nets would “welcome Kyrie back with open arms ... under a different set of circumstances.”
“I’m sure this is not a decision that (Irving and his agents) like -- he wants to be participating with his teammates,” Marks said.
“Again this is a choice that Kyrie had and he was well aware of it. We had multiple conversations and they were good. This is where we stand today.”
Teammates had said they were supportive of Irving’s decision, but Marks seemed to indicate there was concern for the fan reaction. New York was hit hard in early March 2020 by the virus and the Nets’ arena became a vaccination site this spring.
“There are countless, countless workers who have lost jobs because of this, there are people who have lost loved ones and so forth and as I’ve mentioned before this is serious,” Marks said.
“And we play a game of basketball. And although it’s serious and we take our job extremely seriously, these are mandates that right now we don’t have any control over.
“All we can do is abide by them and think that science and the people governing - whether it’s our city, whether it’s our state, whether the country - are making the right calls for us all to get back and to move on into a healthy and safer environment.”
Irving, a seven-time All-Star, played in 54 regular-season games for the Nets last season and averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
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