In today’s installment of “well, that escalated quickly,” we have mercurial NBA superstar Kyrie Irving, who went from having Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash awkwardly attempt to explain the seven-time All-Star’s absence on Sunday...
“We recognize he’s not playing in home games,” Nash told reporters after Irving practiced with the team in Brooklyn for the first time this preseason. “We are going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”
...to the team saying, “So we’re really about to let this goofy-ass nigga derail our entire season because he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine?!” and then pulling the pin out the grenade on Tuesday with the announcement that Kyrie will not be allowed to participate in any games or practices this season—as in at all—until he’s “eligible to be a full participant,” per ESPN.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.
“Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
As we’ve reported ad nauseam at The Root, the exact moment when Kyrie cemented his status as one of the biggest headaches in the history of the league—and no, it wasn’t when he insisted the earth was flat—was when New York City and San Francisco imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates that require proof of vaccination in order to enter arenas, gyms, restaurants, and other indoor venues. As a result of these protocols, players from the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Brooklyn Nets are prohibited from playing in any home games—and there are 41 of them throughout the course of the NBA’s 82 game season—unless they are vaccinated.
Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins momentarily railed against these guidelines before quickly coming to his senses and eventually opted to get vaccinated, but thus far, Kyrie appears to be resolute about dying on his own unvaccinated hill even though he’ll miss out on as much as $381,000 per home game that he would’ve missed.
The good news is now he doesn’t have to worry about being without such an exorbitant sum, because now he’ll miss all the games. Congrats!
If it makes Kyrie feel any better, at least people like Ted Cruz, Sage Steele, and the rest of the MAGA sect stand with him, which I guess counts for something if your goal is to never step foot on a basketball court ever again. At least your weekly invite to poker night at Candace Owen’s penthouse isn’t in jeopardy.
I have no godly idea if Kyrie will relent on this before the league’s Oct. 19 start date, but he’s the exact type of dude who probably won’t out of principle, so I guess we’ll see what happens. But as our Senior Editor, Stephen Crockett Jr., so eloquently stated, “If you aren’t going to comply, then you can stay home, burn incense, and make juices for gut health.”
This can’t be what James Harden and Kevin Durant signed up for. Is it?