Kyrie Irving will be on hiatus for the Brooklyn Nets after opting out of taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier reports indicated that Irving could only have played in street games under New York City guidelines, meaning he wouldn’t be available for 41 home games in the regular season, however, Net’s GM Sean Marks confirmed in a statement today that Irving will not be able to play or practice with the team until he is “eligible to be a full participant”.
“Given the evolving situation and after careful consideration, we have decided that Kyrie Irving will not play or train with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.
“Kyrie made a personal choice and we respect his individual right to vote. Currently, the election will limit his or her ability to be a full-time member of the team and we will not allow any member of our team to participate part-time. “
According to a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Irving, who was off the team last season, is not against the vaccine itself, but against the wider implications of workplace regulations wanting to be a voice for the voiceless. “
Several sources with direct knowledge of Irving’s decision have told The Athletic that Irving is not against the vaccine and that he is upset about people losing their jobs due to vaccination regulations. It’s an attitude Irving has explained to close teammates. For him, it’s about a bigger fight than the one on the pitch and Irving challenges perceived control of society and people’s livelihoods, according to sources familiar with Irving’s mindset. It is a decision he considers capable given his current life dynamics.
What does this mean for the networks?
Under New York City guidelines, Knicks and Nets players who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are prohibited from entering their home arenas for both training and games.
Last week, Brooklyn’s practice facility was declared a private facility by the city, meaning Irving was able to train with the team, but today’s announcement by the Nets has the ball firmly set in Irving’s pitch.
The stalemate between the organization and one of its star players has sparked much speculation about his future in Brooklyn. With trade rumors circulating, Irving may get out of his deal the final year and go free agent the next season, meaning teams are reluctant to give up too much on a deal.
Additionally, Marc Stein recently reported that Irving might consider retiring if he was traded to another team. Now that he and Durant have freed themselves up, Irving’s move would be a delicate position, with a solution that couldn’t be further worked out before the start of the regular season next week.