Kyrie Irving’s ongoing stalemate with the Brooklyn Nets is the biggest non-Ben Simmons story in the NBA right now.
Irving is steadfast in his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccination. New York mandates pro athletes who practice or play indoors to show proof of at least one vaccine shot. That means Irving cannot participate in any home games with the Nets.
Naturally, this has led to some bad blood between him and the organization.
This week, Irving attempted to clear the air.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving isn’t avoiding getting vaccinated because he is anti-science. Rather, he simply doesn’t like what the initiative represents.
“Multiple sources with direct knowledge of Irving’s decision have told The Athletic that Irving is not anti-vaccine and that his stance is that he is upset that people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates,” Charania wrote.
“It’s a stance that Irving has explained to close teammates. To him, this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and people’s livelihood, according to sources with knowledge of Irving’s mindset. It is a decision that he believes he is capable to make given his current life dynamics. ‘Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless,’ one source said.”
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 11, 2021
The Nets have attempted to trade Irving once already, only to be foiled by Kevin Durant. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to offload the talented, albeit controversial, guard at any point in the foreseeable future. What that means for all parties going forward remains to be seen.
Chris Paul’s recent commentary on Irving reflects what a large segment of NBA players seem to believe. And with that in mind, it’s hard to see a scenario where Irving changes his mind any time soon.