In a recent conversation with reporters, Irving acknowledged the organization’s decision to bench him due to his choice to opt-out of getting vaccinated. “I understood the decision and I respected it. I really had to sit back and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective,” Irving said, according to New York Post reporter Brian Lewis. Currently, New York City mandates require all residents to have proof of at least one shot of any COVID vaccine to enter indoor gyms, Barclays Center included.
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Irving hasn’t played in any games because of his refusal to get vaccinated, but he’s very excited to finally get back on the court. “Last night I could barely sleep. I’m like, man, I just don’t want to come out and not be who I am as a player… [My] heart is racing and just not being nervous and touching the basketball again, and just the rhythm of the game. I missed it,” he relayed to Lewis.
Kyrie made the decision not to get vaccinated back in October. The Nets stated that he would not be able to practice or play with the team until he participated. Nets GM Sean Marks made a statement at the time about Irving’s decision, saying, “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”