The Brooklyn Nets banned Kyrie Irving from all team activities on Tuesday until he can meet the requirements to fully participate, but sources close to the star player revealed the reason behind his hesitancy, according to one report.
Sources told The Athletic that Irving does not plan on getting vaccinated and those with direct knowledge of his decision told the outlet that he is not anti-vaccine but he is upset that there are people losing their jobs because of local health mandates.
“To him, this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and people’s livelihood,” the report said, citing sources.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) celebrates after scoring during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in New York. Irving had 50 points but the Nets fell to the Timberwolves in overtime, 127-126. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
“Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless,” one source said.
Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement confirming Irving’s status with the team on Tuesday, despite recently getting the approval for him to return to the team’s practice facility.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) attempt a layup as Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
“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,” the statement read.
“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,” the statement continued.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, left, drives downcourt against Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Irving himself has not publicly revealed his vaccination status or his reasons for or against it. He told reporters during the Nets’ media week, which he attended via zoom, that he asks for privacy in the matter.