Kyrie Irving says he is not retiring in the Instagram Live session
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, who are now entangled in a legal battle over his refusal to be vaccinated, went on Instagram Live on Wednesday to emphasize that he has no plans to retire.
Irving spoke for more than 20 minutes, interrupted only when he appeared to mistakenly mute himself, and momentarily halted his broadcast in his first public comments on the vaccine since it was revealed that he will miss Nets home games for refusing to get the shot.
“Don’t believe that I’m retiring,” Irving said. “Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don’t believe any of that s***, man
Irving spoke extensively about vaccine requirements and society in general, reiterating many of the points made for him in an essay by Shams Charania of The Athletic published the day before. In essence, Irving claims that he is refusing to be vaccinated because he believes he is standing up for people who have lost their jobs as a result of their own refusal to receive a safe, widely administered vaccine that could help end a global pandemic that has killed millions and could kill even more.
Irving clarified that he is not anti-vaccine, but only anti-vaccine mandates:
“Just know that I’m rocking with all those that have lost their jobs to this mandate, and I’m rocking with all those that chose to get vaccinated and are choosing to be safe, as well. I’m on both sides of all this. I support and respect everybody’s decision.
“The financial consequence and stuff, I know I do not want to even do that, but it’s the reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on the team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose to be unvaccinated and that was my choice, and would ask you all just to respect that choice. I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates, and be part of this whole thing.”
Kyrie Irving speaks pic.twitter.com/So7qwh1r2f— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 14, 2021
While Irving was on the air, he received the typical outpouring of support from his fans, including notes of encouragement from retired NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury and, oddly enough, the official Duke men’s basketball account, for whom Irving appeared in 11 games in 2011.
Irving has stated that he does not want to be utilized for political purposes, but that ship has clearly sailed. Several conservative figures, like Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr., have already expressed their support for Irving on social media.
Irving will not play for the Nets this season until he is inoculated, according to the current situation. Due to New York City immunization restrictions, he was officially forbidden from playing home games at Barclays Center, but Nets general manager Sean Marks stated that the franchise did not want a part-time player.
This situation appears to have two possible outcomes: either New York’s vaccine mandates are lifted, or Irving is immunized. According to what he indicated on Wednesday, the latter is still a long shot.
‘It’s about being loyal to what feels good for me,’ Kyrie Irving says of his decision to remain unvaccinated.
Kyrie Irving claimed Wednesday night that he still wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets, but that “this is about my life and what I am choosing to do,” as he explained why he refused the COVID-19 vaccine.
Irving stated on Instagram Live that he is neither pro- nor anti-vaccine and that he is fully aware of the consequences of his decision.
Irving took to social media one day after the Nets said that they would not allow their starting point guard to practice or play with them until he completed the COVID-19 immunization mandate imposed by New York City. Irving stated unequivocally that he is not angry with the Nets organization, his teammates, or the NBA, and that he is not making a political statement. He constantly stated that he appreciates doctors who continue to attempt to keep people safe and those who have been vaccinated, as well as those who have not been vaccinated and “are being forced to do so and are losing their livelihood.”
Nets general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday that he and team owner Joe Tsai finally decided not to let Irving join the team until he received at least one vaccination shot. Irving will only lose the money he was scheduled to play in home games, which he is not allowed to do under New York City’s requirement, according to Marks.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps, Irving could lose almost $17 million if he misses every game in Brooklyn this season (including preseason games) as well as the two regular-season games versus the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Irving may also sign a four-year, $187 million contract extension with Brooklyn.