Kyrie Irving’s COVID vaccination decision affects others too

What are we going to do about Kyrie Irving?

Over the past 10 years, this may be the most frequently asked question in the NBA.

No one knows what to do about Irving, which makes him the most intriguing, crazy, and polarizing person in the league. Last May, Dredrich Irving told The Post that his son is “probably the most misunderstood person in the game.” Kyrie wouldn’t have it any other way.

But in some respects the mystery surrounding the seven-time All-Star is less benign than in others. Irving is currently hurting his team by not coming to practice in Brooklyn. The Nets would like to win a championship this season, which they didn’t win last season, when Irving was hurt in the playoffs. If the point guard refuses to meet New York City’s mandate that requires COVID-19 vaccinations for indoor events, he will seriously compromise the Nets’ chances of winning that title.

Remaining on the brand, Irving has yet to publicly disclose his reasons for not being vaccinated, and being the only member of his team to practice in Brooklyn (and at Madison Square Garden, for two games against the Knicks). and ineligible to play. Although local health protocols will cause him to lose more than $380,000 for each game he misses, Irving won’t just be sacrificing money, with Friday night’s pre-season reunion with the defending-champion Bucks. He will sacrifice some of his credibility as a thought provoking voice on important social issues.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving spotted after leaving game
Kyrie Irving can miss every Nets home game as well as two games at Madison Square Garden.
Corey Sipkin

Irving has spoken out right against systemic inequalities and racial discrimination, and he backs up his words with substantial financial commitments to people and communities in need.

“My goal here, my purpose,” Irving said last spring, “is to help humanity.”

It is not meeting that goal or purpose right now, not when nearly 5 million people have died from COVID-19 around the world, including more than 700,000 Americans. As much as humanity needs people to address the social issues raised regularly by Irving, it needs no other public figure overlooking the best available solution to a staggering health tragedy.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote on his substack that when an athlete “breaks a leg or has a heart attack or their child is in an accident, they don’t tell doctors, ‘Until I do more research. Till then don’t do anything.’ They plead for help from medical experts.” Abdul-Jabbar said that if athletes “can’t muster up the courage to do the right thing, the NBA and every other league governing body will have to work with players, coaches and staff to protect the team.” Vaccination should be made compulsory. fans, and community. Players are free to choose not to be vaccinated, but must have the courage of their moral convictions to sit out the season to uphold the righteousness of their choice. They have already proved that they are not team players.”

If Irving were a golfer or tennis player, his reluctance to vaccinate in accordance with local law would not have harmed other athletes. But his decisions in basketball have an impact on others.

It’s not just about promoting his own basketball legacy, or the legacy of Kevin Durant and James Harden. If Irving disqualifies himself from at least 43 of the 82 regular-season games, all home practice, and all home playoff games, the dramatic impact on the Nets could negatively affect the careers of middle- and lower-level players. Is. Those men would never make anything close to $36 million a year.

    Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant #7, James Harden #13 and Kyrie Irving #11
Brooklyn’s Big 3 – Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving – could see a dramatic impact on their championship chase if Irving misses more than half a season.
Getty Images

More than 95 percent of NBA players have been vaccinated, certainly some were motivated in more than one way to protect their teammates. Irving? “He’s a very thoughtful person,” former New Jersey Governor Richard Cody, a longtime friend of his and Irving’s family, told The Post on Thursday. “But at the end of the day, Kyrie is doing what she thinks is right. No one will motivate her to do the right thing. He will do it himself. And if he has to lose money, it won’t bother him.” “

Cody, who has been fully vaccinated (including the booster shot) declined to say what he thought of Irving’s unrelated condition. At Nets camp, Durant, Harden and head coach Steve Nash talk about Irving’s condition and their hope that he will eventually join them. But his comments are usually everywhere because he doesn’t know what to say.

Deep down, the Nets know they can’t possibly absorb extended in-season absences and that Irving could play less than half a game, without practice time, and still have a working season. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

So a few more questions: 1) Would Irving really give the Nets any choice but to suspend them for all games and force them to fight for their money through the union or the courts?; And 2) Will he really leave Durant like this after he signs up to play with KD?

In the end, it all comes down to the shot. Kyrie Irving should finally get one for the team.


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