Kyrie Irving’s Refusal to Abide to Vaccination Mandate

Joseph Guzman

The 2021 NBA Season started on October 19, 2021 and in order for many players to be able to step foot on the court, some of the team owners and organizations made the COVID-19 Vaccine mandatory. 

If players are fully vaccinated, they have many benefits of being together with their team. Players who have been fully vaccinated are able to avoid getting tested for COVID regularly and they can all sit together in team locker rooms and not have to be socially distant . Athletescan also eat together at team meals and be together when flying to other cities. Over 90% of the NBA Players are vaccinated, some players in greater areas where there are many more COVID cases. 

Before the start of the season, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Joseph C. Tsai, made the vaccine mandatory for the players and staff associated with the organization. To participate in any home games, or even practice with the team, vaccinations were required for the duration of the season.Kyrie Irving, the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, is one of the few players who refused to become vaccinated. Due to his choice, Sean Marks, the general manager, and Joseph Tsai decided to not let Kyrie join the team until he gets at least one vaccine shot. He is unable to participate with the team in practices, home, and away games. 

The star point guard was set to earn $40 million this year as a continuation of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets. His decision to not get the vaccination will cost him $15 million, which are his earnings if he played in this season’s home games.

He’s received an immense amount of  backlash for his decision and didn’t speak on the topic for quite some time. “It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?” said Kyrie Irving.

As the season continues to move on, the Nets are still playing without Irving to this day. He strongly stands behind his decision and states  it does not affect anyone else except for him. In reality, it does affect everyone; his teammates, owners, fans, and many people around him. It affects New York City as a whole because currently there is a vaccination mandate. A huge star basketball player in the city refusing to get the vaccine may influence others to refuse getting the vaccine and risk them and those close to them getting sick.