After a largely low-profile offseason, the Brooklyn Nets were back as the center of attention this week. When you have three top 10 players in the NBA on your roster, that’s bound to happen.
However, it always seems to be Kyrie Irving — not Kevin Durant or James Harden — who forces the Nets into the limelight.
In Irving’s defense, he could do nothing to prevent the asinine trade rumors that were unearthed by Fox Sports’ Nick Wright and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. For anyone who needs a reminder, Kyrie isn’t going anywhere.
Unfortunately for Irving (and the Nets), the latest controversy he’s engulfed in is all the former No. 1 overall pick’s doing.
Per Fox Sports, Irving has yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and has been vehemently against the shot, making it unlikely that will change anytime soon. With the NBA enforcing rigid protocols for the upcoming season, let’s examine what kind of disadvantages Irving’s vaccination status could pose for the Nets.
What happens if Nets star Kyrie Irving doesn’t get vaccinated before the start of the regular season?
For starters, Irving wouldn’t be able to play in home games. Earlier in the offseason, the NBA informed teams they would have to uphold vaccine mandates in their home cities and New York is requiring individuals over the age of 12 to have proof of at least one dose of a vaccination to enter “certain covered premises.”
Irving could play in home games this season if he pushes for a medical or religious exemption, but that doesn’t seem to be on his agenda. In fact, Irving’s aunt, Tyki, told Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone that the seven-time All-Star is more keen on bending the rules than getting vaccinated or applying for exemption.
"“He is going to try to figure that out as it comes, because it’s not religious-based, it’s moral-based,” Tyki said. “You may have to sit on the sideline, you might not have to be in the arena during this. If it’s that freaking important to get a vaccine that, hell, it’s still not preventing the Covid then I’d rather them working it out that way than to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t get the vaccine, then you can’t be a part of the franchise that you fu—-’ helped build.’”"
If we were to assume that Irving’s aunt is speaking for him, it sounds like the Nets star has no plans of getting vaccinated. He’s very much a part of the anti-vaccine crowd and, according to the Rolling Stone article, has even been caught liking social media posts involving “secret societies” that are “implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for ‘a plan of Satan.’”
Even for Irving, who has a rich history in terms of being outspoken about conspiracy theories, this is unexpected.
Regardless, the bottom line is Irving’s vaccination status means he won’t be allowed to play in half of the Nets’ games this season and that could have huge ramifications as far as playoff seeding is concerned.