New York City has imposed a mandate that will require Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks players to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. If the players refuse, they will be ineligible to play their home games at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center for the 2021 season.
With the NBA season set to kick off exactly a week from today (October 19), Nets star Kyrie Irving has yet to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Although he would be ineligible to play games in New York, Irving could play games in markets that do not require him to be vaccinated. But that will not happen either as the Nets have decided to sideline Irving until he can be a full-time player.
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Nets to Bench Kyrie Irving Until He Is “Full Participant”
It could not have been an easy decision, but the Nets have decided to isolate Kyrie from the Nets until he gets vaccinated. This means not only will he not play home games, but he will also be ineligible to participate in away games and team practices per Nets general manager Sean Marks.
“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,” Marks said in an official statement released by the team on October 12.
“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.”
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Kevin Durant Optimistic That Kyrie Will Join Team
Many Nets fans were optimistic about the opportunity for their team to start their season off with a clean slate and drama-free. But it seems that the team has picked up right where they left off after a tumultuous 2020 season. Despite a rocky start to the 2021 season, Nets star Kevin Durant is remaining optimistic that Kyrie will eventually join the team this year.
“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team. Maybe I’m just naïve, but that is just how I feel. But I think everybody here has that confidence in themselves, in our group, that if we keep building, we can do something special,” Durant told reporters per ESPN.
“He is dealing with something personal right now. And while he is dealing with that, we are going to focus on us here in the gym and keep working. When they are ready to figure that out, he’ll figure it out. I mean he’s a special player, so it is going to be hard to duplicate what he brings. But professional sports are about the next man up mentality so we are looking forward to guys stepping up and filling in that role as best as they can.”
With Kyrie’s vaccine drama ruling the NBA headlines for the past several weeks there has been another story that has flown under the radar. That being that Nets’ star James Harden has yet to sign an extension with the team. It will be interesting to see if this situation affects Harden’s desire to remain with the Nets long-term.