Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets says he recognises the career and financial consequences of his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and that he is willing to stand up for what he believes in.
The Brooklyn Nets announced earlier this week that they are benching Irving because his lack of vaccination prevents him from practising or playing in New York City, and they are unwilling to put the team in a position where he is a part-time road player.
Irving addressed the incident on Instagram Live on Wednesday night. They were his first public remarks since a videoconference with reporters on September 27.
“I know I don’t want to do it because of the financial ramifications,” Irving, 29, added. “However, it is a fact that in order to be in New York City and on a team, I must be vaccinated.” I elected to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would appreciate it if you would simply accept my choice.
“I’m just going to keep working out, remain in condition, be ready to play, rock out with my guys, and be a part of this whole process. This is not a political issue; it has nothing to do with the NBA or any other organisation. This is about my life and what I’ve decided to accomplish with it.”
It’s unclear when or if he’ll get a chance to play this season. But Irving, who won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, said he isn’t giving up on his dream of winning another alongside superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden in Brooklyn.
And he has stated that he will not be retiring. If he does not play this season, he may forfeit more than $17 million (£12.4 million) in compensation for games played in Brooklyn and Madison Square Garden.
“Do you honestly believe I want to lose money?” Do you honestly believe I’m willing to abandon my desire to compete for a championship? Do you think I merely want to quit my job? “I think I just want to sit at home and not go after things with my teammates with whom I’ve been able to grow, learn, and realise that it requires sacrifice in this space,” Irving said. “… You think I’d give up my job because of a mandate because I don’t have accommodations because I’m unvaccinated?” Come on.
Irving stated that he is neither pro nor anti-vaccine. He emphasised that he is not furious with the Nets or the NBA, and he does not criticise individuals who choose to be vaccinated.
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