Since Kyrie Irving was brought back to the Nets on a part-time basis, many thought the star point guard would have a change of heart and get vaccinated so he contribute full-time. Irving all but shut that door after a reporter asked him about his vaccine status Monday after Brooklyn's game against the Cavs.
Following a loss to the Cavaliers on Martin Luther King Day, Irving was asked by two media members in his postgame press conference whether he would reconsider taking the COVID-19 vaccine to be more available for his team since Kevin Durant is sidelined with an MCL injury. Irving, who seemed to get irritated at the constant vaccine-related questions, shot down both reporters in a lengthy response.
Here's the full transcript of what Irving said:
“What I’m trying to better articulate is I’m not bringing science into the basketball game. Everyone’s feeling what’s going on in the real world. I’m walking around as an unvaccinated person, sort of saying I’ve already been separated into another group with the team. I’m just saying I’m human, I have decisions to make, a family to take care of, there are things that are just as important to me as being great at the game of basketball, or, you know, leaving a legacy…. What’s going on with me is I’m taking it one day at a time. That’s it. Nothing is guaranteed in this world right now. People are getting sick left and right. For me, I’m just trying to be a person who is just being a beacon of hope and light and just trying to shed as much as I can on the situation without talking myself into more BS and what is going on in this political world that we’re in right now. I just don’t want to bring science into this, and it always gets wrapped up, and I’m asked questions all the time about what’s my status. Man, if you were in my position, it would be easy for someone to say ‘why don’t you just get vaccinated?’ But you’re not. I made my decision already and I’m standing on it.”
“…But in terms of where I am with my life outside of [basketball], I stay rooted in my decision. That’s just what it is. It’s not going to be swayed by one thing in this NBA life that is somehow brought to my attention as being more important than what’s going on in the real world. It’s just not happening for me. Again, I respect everyone’s decision and I’m not going to try and convince anyone or anything like that, I’m just standing rooted in what I believe in. And though we’re dealing with this right now with Kev, I know I am protected by the organization, I’m protected by my teammates, all the doctors I talked to, I’m rooted.”
“You’re bringing my vaccination status into a basketball game, and I live the majority of my life away from this. So when I say I’m not getting vaccinated, I’m making a choice with my life. Somehow it gets, like Nick’s saying, ‘what about the basketball?’ No, bro. We live in a real world. This is great to be able to do this, I am grateful for the opportunity, I love playing with my teammates, I love playing on the Nets, but I’ve already been away enough times to think about the processes and be able to make this decision, stand strong, and understand people are going to agree, people are going to disagree. The circumstances at hand, I’m praying they change and we can do things differently, and that’s not just for me. That’s for all the unvaccinated people being fired from work. It’s not just about me, that’s been my message the whole time.”
With Irving not willing to change his stance, the Nets are in some serious trouble for the next few weeks.
The severity of Durant's MCL injury he suffered against the Pelicans is unknown. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant is expected to miss four-to-six-weeks. It's possible we don't see Durant's return to the court until after the All-Star break.
Brooklyn's 11 of their next 16 games are on the road, making Irving available for a majority of that stretch. Head coach Steve Nash, despite the drama surrounding his team, is not upset with the position they find themselves in.
“If they get a bunch of games together, great. If they don’t, they don’t,” Nash said Monday, via ESPN. “And we’ll be playing the cards we’re dealt so it’s a little bit out of our hands. We just have to do the best we can. We can’t cry about it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We got to keep building, see what we can learn, how we can grow during this period … and how we can continue to move this thing forward so when they do come back, we’re in a better place — and he can rejoin us in a better place where we can feel better about where we are in that part of the season.”
Despite Nash's optimism, the absence of Durant was very apparent during the Nets loss to the Cavs 114-107. Irving will be available for Brooklyn's next game Wednesday night on the road against Washington.
Follow Jasper Jones on Twitter: @jonesj2342