Kyrie Irving has broken his silence.
The Brooklyn Nets star guard will be unable to take the court for practice or games because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of his decision, Irving would have only been able to play in away games for the Nets but the team ultimately decided he is completely ruled out for the foreseeable future.
Late Wednesday night, Irving took to Instagram Live to open up about his decision and speak on his current situation in Brooklyn and any potential talk of retirement.
“It’s reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on the team I have to be vaccinated,” Irving said to his more than 100,000 viewers. “I chose to be unvaccinated. And that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice.
“I’m staying grounded in what I believe in. It’s not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It’s about being true to what feels good for me. I’m still uncertain about a lot of things. And that’s OK. If I’m going to be demonized about having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, then that’s just what it is.”
Kyrie Irving speaks pic.twitter.com/So7qwh1r2f
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 14, 2021
Irving also addressed the talks of potential retirement, insisting he is not ready to completely walk away from the game.
“Don’t believe that I’m retiring,” Irving said. “Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don’t believe any of that sh*t, man.”
Because he is unable to play for the Nets until he gets vaccinated, Kyrie will lose more than $15.5 million this season.
Kyrie Irving address his stance on not getting the vaccine on IG Live: “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?” pic.twitter.com/cYHCWGbnCo
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 14, 2021
“It’s not about the money, baby,” Irving said. “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? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I’ve been able to grow with, to learn with? … You think I want to give up my livelihood because of a mandate? Because I don’t have accommodations? Because I’m unvaccinated? Come on. I’m not going to be used as a person in this agenda.
“It’s not about the Nets. It’s not about the organization. It’s not about the NBA. It’s not politics. It’s not any one thing that I’m pinpointing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
This isn’t a story that is going away anytime soon.
The Brooklyn Nets open the 2021-22 regular season on Tuesday, October 19, with a trip to Fiserv Forum to take on the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.