NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a virtual press conference prior to the 2021-22 season tip-off. As most expected to happen, he was asked about Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and his choice to not get vaccinated. A decision that eventually led the Nets to exclude him from practicing and playing with the team.
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Adam Silver Is Still Hopeful That Kyrie Will Play This Season
Silver acknowledged the issue as one that is “between Irving and New York City,” making it clear that it is no longer a league matter. However, he did express his desire to see the 7-time All-Star on the floor this year.
“Frankly, I hope that Kyrie, despite how strongly he feels about the vaccination, ultimately decides to get vaccinated, because I’d love to see him play basketball this season,” Silver said. “And I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have their full complement of players on the floor.”
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Kyrie Addressed His Decision To Be Unvaccinated
Last week Irving took to Instagram live to clarify his stance on not getting the vaccine. He emphasized the fact that his decision was not political or to fight any tyranny, but simply because he is doing what he feels is best for him.
“The financial consequences, I know I do not want to even do that,” Irving said in a transcript obtained from ESPN.
“But it is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice. This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do.”
Stephen A. Smith Calls Kyrie Irving ‘Selfish’
League personnel, former players, and general fans of the NBA have taken to the internet and media, giving opinions and concerns regarding Irving’s decision.
On “ESPN First Take”, analyst Stephen A. Smith called the Nets guard’s decision to remain unvaccinated selfish and called him out for his consistent distractions to his teammates.
“The Brooklyn Nets need to get rid of Kyrie Irving,” Smith said. “He got to go. He’s just a problem. His level of stubbornness has elevated to a glaring level of selfishness, and I completely applaud the Brooklyn Nets for taking this position. I said it before, and I’m telling y’all again: They’d give his a** away for a box of cookies if they could. They’re so disgusted with this dude. I’m telling you what I know.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Addresses Kyrie’s Decision
All-Time Points leader and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared on CNN where he was asked how he felt about Irving’s reasoning for not getting the vaccine. His stance is that although Kyrie is doing what he feels is best for him he ultimately is not being a good teammate.
“Well, I can understand that he wants to do what feels good to him, but what feels good to him can endanger other people”, Abdul-Jabbar said per CNN.
“His teammates, their families, and the other people that work in the Nets organization. So, at that point where he is exposing his teammates and the people he works with to the risk of infection he’s not being a good teammate.”
Though he is currently not allowed to play, Kyrie has made it clear that he will not be retiring anytime soon. This came after rumors that he would consider retirement if the Nets were to trade him. It will be interesting to see just how long his holdout lasts.