Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was not in attendance at the team’s media day Monday morning due to New York City's COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst. The team still does expect Irving to be at training camp in San Diego later this week, and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic says that Irving is slated to speak on Zoom later today.
Irving, who is reported to still be unvaccinated, must get a least one dose of the vaccine before the start of the season if he wants to play at home games in Brooklyn. New York City and San Francisco have both passed vaccine requirements for all indoor events, including sporting venues. The Golden State Warriors are having their own issues with Andrew Wiggins, who like Irving, refuses to get vaccinated.
Rolling Stone spoke with Irving's aunt, Tyki, who thinks it’s still possible for the seven-time All-Star to sit out home games and still play this season.
"There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way," she said. "It could be like every third game. So, it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they're, of course, oppressing upon you."
This isn’t out of the normal for Irving, who skipped last year’s media day altogether. While Irving is still reluctant to get vaccinated, Nets general manager Sean Marks said he feels confident that all of his players will be vaccinated ahead of training camp, putting no limitations on who can play.
Kevin Durant, who did attend media day, said its Irving’s personal decision to not take the vaccine and he expects to have the whole team available.
“No, I expect it not to be an issue. It’s on Kyrie and that’s his personal decision. I expect us to have our whole team,” Durant said.
There is currently no league vaccine mandate, meaning Irving can still play in other cities that have no mandates. Michele Roberts, the head of the NBA players union, has said that about 90% of the players have been vaccinated.
The Nets start the regular season on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks Oct. 19 and take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 22. Brooklyn's home opener is Oct. 24 against the Charlotte Hornets.