Kyrie Irving has responded to the Brooklyn Nets’ decision to not allow him to play until he either gets vaccinated or New York City lifts its mandate.
“You know, nobody’s gonna hijack my voice. Nobody’s gonna take the power away from me that I have for speaking on these things,” Irving said Wednesday on Instagram Live, seeming to confirm reported details about the seven-time All-Star’s stance from The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“And don’t believe that I’m retiring, don’t believe that, you know, I’m gonna give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated.”
During a stream from his personal account, which lasted around 20 minutes (including some connectivity issues) Irving shared his mentality about not getting vaccinated from COVID-19, his uncomfortableness being “forced” to do something with his body and not necessarily wanting to lose out on $16 million in salary or an $186 million extension.
That comes with a consequence, which he’s aware of. And fortunately for him, he’s in a financial situation that allows him to continue to miss time with the Nets. Irving said for him, this is also about speaking for those who don’t have that luxury but remain uncomfortable about getting vaccinated.
Irving expressed respect for doctors as well as the Nets and NBA. He also insinuated that the Nets perhaps assured him his status would be accommodated for this season, which was interesting, and requested that his opinion stop being used to fuel one narrative or the other.
“I’m am not an advocate for either side,” Irving said. “I’m doing what’s best for me, I know the consequences here. You know? And if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is. That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate or was happening in our world — I didn’t expect that going into the season. Come on now. I love this game, like, love the game, but sometimes you really got to make choices that ultimately can affect that. And it’s unfortunate, but that’s where we (are) in 2021.”