Kyrie Irving said Wednesday night that he still hopes to come back and play for the Brooklyn Nets, but that “this is about my life and what I choose to do,” explaining his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Irving, speaking on Instagram Live, said he is neither in favor of vaccines nor against vaccines and that he fully understands the ramifications of his decision.
“The financial consequences, I know I don’t even want to do that,” Irving said. “But it’s a reality, to be in New York City, to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose not to be vaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask everyone to respect that choice.
“I’m going to continue to stay fit, be ready to play, be ready to rock with my teammates and be a part of all of this. This is not a political issue; this is not about the NBA, this is not about any organization. It’s about my life and what I choose to do. “
Irving spoke on social media a day after the Nets decided not to allow their starting point guard to practice or play with them until he meets New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Irving made it clear that he is not upset with the Nets organization, his teammates or the NBA, and said he was not trying to make a political statement. He repeatedly said that he respects the doctors who continue to try to keep people safe and those who are vaccinated, while respecting those who are not vaccinated and “are mandated to do this and are losing their livelihood.” .
Nets general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday that the decision not to let Irving join the team until he receives at least one vaccination was made by him and team owner Joe Tsai. Marks also said Irving will only lose money owed to him for playing home games, which he is not authorized to do under New York City.
If Irving misses every game in Brooklyn this season (including preseason), along with the two regular-season games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, he could lose more than $ 17 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps. . Irving is also eligible to sign a four-year, $ 187 million extension with Brooklyn.
“You have to make these convictions yourself,” said Irving, who had not spoken publicly since Sept. 27, when he had to speak to reporters via video conference because he couldn’t join his teammates for media day due to the New York City mandate. “’Hey, you’re going to lose money; you’re going to lose this. ‘ And that? It’s not about money, it’s about choosing what’s best for you.
“Do you really think I want to lose money? Do you really think I want to give up my dream of going after a championship? Do you think I really just want to quit my job? Do you think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I’ve grown up with, learn, learn that sacrifice is needed … Do you think I want to give up my livelihood for a mandate, because I don’t have accommodation because I’m not vaccinated? Come on. “
Irving said he’s “still not sure about a lot of things, and that’s okay.”
“This is my life,” Irving said. “I can do whatever I want with this, this is the only body I have here. And you tell me what to do with my body … This has everything to do with what is happening in our world. And they are grouping me into something which is bigger than basketball. “
As Irving later added, “I stay rooted in what I believe in. It’s as simple as that. It’s not about being anti-vax or being on one side or the other. It’s really about being true to what it feels like. good for me … If they are going to demonize me for having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, well it is what it is … I know the consequences of the decisions I make with my life. I’m not here to sweeten any of that. “
Irving ended his talk on Instagram Live saying that he will not end his career like this.
“No one is going to shut up this voice,” Irving said. “See if they put this on their TV channels and if they put this real truth somewhere before you start talking about me and what I’m doing with my life. And no, I’m not going to withdraw. And no, no I’m leaving and I’m going to leave the game like this. There’s still a lot of work to do. “