Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving said Wednesday, he didn’t want to lose salary or the chance to compete for a championship with his team, but he was doing “what’s best for me” by refusing to receive the Covid-19 shot.
The Nets decided Tuesday that Irving would not be with the team because he is ineligible to play at home, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on one of the city’s teams to be vaccinated to practice or compete in public places.
Speaking on Instagram Live, Irving said he loved basketball and wasn’t retiring.
“I’m doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if that means I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s exactly what it is,” Irving stressed. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream for this mandate.”
Irving would have been able to train with the Nets and play games outside of New York. The Nets will pay him for that, but he’s giving up about half of his $35 million salary by missing home games.
“So what, it’s not about the money,” Irving noted. “It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money?”
Irving said he was supportive of the people who were and were not vaccinated and expressed appreciation for the doctors. The All-Star point guard gave no indication that he was against being vaccinated, only that he was deciding not to.
“Again, I’m going to repeat this. It’s not about the Nets, it’s not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not about politics,” Irving reiterated. “It’s not one thing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
Irving has not spoken to reporters since the Nets’ media day on Sept. 27, when he appeared via Zoom and asked for privacy when asked about his vaccination status.
The Nets are championship contenders and Irving said he didn’t want to miss the opportunity he has with them.
Nets general manager Sean Marks stated that the team would gladly welcome Irving back under the right circumstances, and Irving made it clear that he would play again.