Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving missed the team’s media day Monday, September 27, reportedly over health and safety protocols, but did speak to the media via Zoom.
And the last thing he wanted to talk about was his vaccination status. Under New York City regulations, pro athletes are not allowed to practice or play – or ostensibly attend media day – in indoor spaces without at least the first of two vaccine shots for COVID-19.
“I like to keep that stuff private, man,” Irving said when asked whether he’s been vaccinated. “I’m a human being first. .. I would love to just keep that private and handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan.”
Irving, 29, is expected to accompany the Nets to San Diego, where they will begin training camp this week. However, a report Sunday suggested Irving does not want to get the vaccine, with his aunt suggesting he wants to play in a limited number of games.
“We trust in Kyrie,” Kevin Durant said Monday. “I expect us to have our whole team at some point.”
In his comments Monday, Irving didn’t confirm whether he will be playing before fans in Brooklyn this season.
“I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team, be there for my growing tribe off the court and just tie in the journey together. … In this space, I do want to accomplish more than I have in the last few years. I felt like I’ve fallen short alongside my teammates of just achieving that goal that we’re all trying to go after.
“I know that the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions and this was the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this,” Irving added.
He said more would be revealed at a “later date.”
“Please just respect my privacy regarding anything regarding home games, vaccination,” the seven-time All-Star said.
Roughly 50 to 60 NBA players have yet to receive the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Rolling Stone reported. Included in that group is the outspoken Andrew Wiggins, who, like Irving in New York City, faces regulations in San Francisco that would prevent him from practicing or playing in home Warriors games until he’s vaccinated.
The 2021-22 NBA regular season begins October 19, when the Nets are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Bucks on the road. Their home opener is Oct. 24 against Charlotte.
Irving is no stranger to missing games for personal reasons. He took an 11-day, seven-game leave of absence from the Nets early in the 2020-21 season for what he deemed “family and personal stuff.” – Rappler.com