Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Nets won’t play Irving until he meets vaccine requirement

Published:Wednesday | October 13, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Irving
Irving

NEW YORK (AP):

Kyrie Irving can continue to choose not to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

He just won’t play for the Brooklyn Nets until he is.

The Nets announced yesterday that Irving would not play or practisewith them until he could be a full participant, ending the idea that he would play in only road games.

Irving hasn’t said he isn’t vaccinated, asking for privacy when he spoke via Zoom during the team’s media day on September 27.

But he had rarely been with the team in New York, where a mandate requires professional athletes playing for a team in the city have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play or practise in public venues.

“Kyrie’s made it clear that he has a choice in this matter and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides,” General Manager Sean Marks said. “We respect the fact that he has a choice; he can make his own, and right now what’s best for the organisation is the path that we’re taking.”

Teams aren’t allowed to reveal private details of players’ health. But asked if Irving was vaccinated, Marks said: “If he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s probably pretty clear.”

Marks said he and owner Joe Tsai together made the decision, adding that it came through discussions with Irving and his associates.

“Kyrie loves to play basketball, wants to be out there, wants to be participating with his teammates,” Marks said. “But again, this is a choice that Kyrie had and he was well aware of that.”

Irving wasn’t even eligible to practise with the Nets in New York until Friday, when the city told the team that its training facility was considered a private venue.

Irving then joined the team at an outdoor practice on Saturday and worked out with the team on Sunday, but didn’t play in Brooklyn’s exhibition game at Philadelphia on Monday.

Coach Steve Nash had said that the Nets knew they were going to be missing Irving for some games. For now, at least, it will be all of them.

FINAL THREE GAMES

With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Irving, the Nets were considered a favourite to win the NBA title. They were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of last season’s play-offs after Irving sprained his ankle and missed the final three games.

NBA players are not required to be vaccinated, but they face more testing and restrictions on their ability to be around their teammates. The league had said that players wouldn’t be paid for games they miss because they are ineligible to play.

Marks said Irving would still be paid for road games.

Teammates had said they were supportive of Irving’s decision, but Marks seemed to indicate there was concern for the fan reaction. New York was hit hard in early March 2020 by the virus, and the Nets’ arena became a vaccination site this spring.