The Brooklyn Nets are off to a 1-2 start without star Kyrie Irving, who has been barred from joining the team over his COVID-19 vaccine stance — but according to Kevin Durant, the Nets aren’t holding out for him after Sunday night’s loss against the Charlotte Hornets.
Durant scored double digits for the Nets in Sunday’s 111-95 loss, yet he told reporters after the game that he’s not thinking about Irving’s absence while on the court.
“While we are playing in a game, I am not going to sit there and say … when we get down or it is a tight game, like ‘Damn, we don’t have enough,’” he said, via ESPN. “We are not going to be thinking about [that] during the game. We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor. And he is a huge part of what we do. But it is not happening right now. So we got to figure it out.”
Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets attempts a shot as Kevin Durant #7 and Joe Harris #12 of the Brooklyn Nets defend during the second half of a game at Barclays Center on Oct. 24, 2021 in New York City. The Hornets defeated the Nets 111-95.” (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
The Nets took a strong stance against Irving being used as a part-time player after he received permission to practice with the team despite New York City mandates. General manager Sean Marks issued a statement earlier this month announcing that Irving would not participate in any team activities until he was fully vaccinated.
Irving spoke out for the first time on his Instagram Live days saying he made his decision understanding the consequences.
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)
“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.”
Irving has since received harsh criticism for his decision not to get vaccinated but his teammates seemed to be focused on the road ahead — even if that doesn’t include him.
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on from the bench during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on October 24, 2021 in New York City. The Hornets defeated the Nets 111-95.” (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
“No one is going to lose confidence while we playing and hope Kyrie comes to save us during the game,” Durant added. “No, we got to play. Everybody here is confident in what they do. We just got to play.”