As the 2021-22 NBA season gets closer to tipping off, one of the dominating storylines is the vaccination rates among players in the league. It was recently reported by The Athletic that 90 percent of the NBA’s players are vaccinated. However, the focus remains on the 10 percent that aren’t as training camps start.
The league has already laid out COVID-19 guidelines for unvaccinated players, which includes daily testing, mask requirements in team facilities and mandatory quarantine if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive. The NBA laid out these rules likely in an attempt to convince players to get the vaccine, but there is still a contingent of players skeptical about getting the vaccine.
One of those players is reportedly Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who according to Fox Sports, is unvaccinated. If Irving doesn’t get at least one dose of the vaccine before the season starts, not only would he be subject to the stricter guidelines set by the league, but he would also be unable to play in any of the Nets home games, per the New York City vaccinate mandate.
Irving is already choosing to skip Nets media day Monday in Brooklyn due to the vaccine mandate, but the team does expect him to be at training camp in San Diego, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst. However, Irving plans to speak with reporters via Zoom on Monday afternoon, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
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New York City and San Francisco passed vaccination requirements for indoor activities, which include professional sports arenas. That means that players competing for the Nets, Knicks and Warriors must be vaccinated to play in home games. Golden State is already facing an obstacle with that mandate as forward Andrew Wiggins has been reluctant to get a vaccine, and now apparently Brooklyn is facing that same dilemma with Irving.
According to a report by Rolling Stone, it’s possible that Irving could decide to sit out home games in Brooklyn instead of getting the vaccine, at least according to his aunt Tyki Irving.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” Tyki Irving said. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you.”
While it’s unclear if that is something Irving is considering, his aunt is the executive director of his KAI Family Foundation, and is considered “one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors,” per Rolling Stone. Irving is also no stranger to finding a way around league rules, as evidenced by him skipping media day altogether last season. He also stayed sidelined for a portion of Brooklyn’s games for personal reasons and underwent a mandatory quarantine after breaking the league’s COVID-19 policies last year for attending a party he threw for his sister at a club.
While Irving is still reluctant to get vaccinated, Nets general manager Sean Marks said recently that the team “felt confident” that all players would be vaccinated ahead of training camp which would put no limitations on participation. Right now, though, it appears like they’re having some difficulty convincing Irving to get vaccinated.