Irving made his remarks late Wednesday night on Instagram Live. He said he has no plans to retire.
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here, and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is. That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate,” he said.
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets cheers from the bench during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Oct. 3, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Irving, who stands to lose half of his $35 million salary for skipping games over the vaccine rules, said his stand wasn’t about money.
“So what? It’s not about the money. It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money?”
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball during the game against the Detroit Pistons on March 13, 2021, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
The point guard said he supported people who were and weren’t vaccinated and made no indication he was against being vaccinated. He made clear he just wasn’t getting the jab.
“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics. It’s not any one thing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do,” he said.
The Nets drew a red line on Irving’s availability for the 2021-22 season. On Tuesday, general manager Sean Marks said Irving isn’t going to be a part-time player.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Marks said.
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on April 16, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
“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 not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
Irving isn’t eligible to play in home games, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on the city’s teams to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.