Brooklyn Nets: Will Kyrie Irving follow Andrew Wiggins’ lead?

Kyrie Irving (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The NBA has done a good job of encouraging most of their players to get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the lack of a mandate from the players’ union, but the Brooklyn Nets may, unfortunately, have one of the more high-profile holdovers in superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.

While Irving is not the only player who’s refused the shot, his status, combined with New York’s mandate on vaccinations, could mean that he’ll see increased risk of missing games if he stands his ground.

This has prompted all sorts of strong takes from across the aisle, with some noteworthy names like Shaquille O’Neal and even Stephen A. Smith recommending that the Nets trade Irving away in favor of someone that is vaccinated and wouldn’t potentially miss more than half of the season. As harsh as it sounds, can you really fault the logic here?

Another player that faced a similar choice due to the same restriction in San Francisco was Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins. While he was originally willing to resist getting inoculated due to his beliefs, it appears that the potential of missing out on money prompted a swift reversal.

Wiggins has reportedly been vaccinated, according to Shams Charania, which means that there’s no chance of him missing home games due to the mandate on vaccines. Is Irving going to follow Wiggins’ lead and get his shot?

Kyrie Irving needs to get vaccinated to help the Brooklyn Nets.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass has confirmed that players like Irving who decided not to get vaccinated and miss out on games due to arena restrictions will not receive their game check. Irving stands to lose just over $380,000 every single game if the scenario remains.

Irving would also miss any road games played against the Warriors and Knicks. Would the Nets survive without Irving on the floor for that long?

Both Kevin Durant and GM Sean Marks have implied that the Irving drama is not going to spill over into the regular season, with Durant claiming the Nets are expected to have their “whole team” available before the season starts. Let’s just hope that his prediction comes true.

Irving’s desire to keep his vaccination status personal doesn’t necessarily stand up, unfortunately. When the third-best player on a title team and a top-20 player in the league is potentially risking to sit out such a large chunk of time, the impact that his decision could have on the Nets makes this a collective issue.

Ultimately, the NBA is playing hardball with Irving, Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets, and anyone else that doesn’t feel like protecting themselves against the virus. Wiggins has given in. Perhaps a domino effect ensues.

Then again, if the combination of pressure from his teammates, front office, league, and city, in addition to the potential millions of dollars he would forfeit by choosing to sit games out hasn’t convinced Irving that he needs to get vaccinated yet, it’s fair to wonder if he will change his mind before the start of the season.

On the other hand, Irving could have that moment of clarity that tells him the best thing for his financial situation and Brooklyn’s odds of competing for a championship involves him coming around on his personal choice. Hopefully, that moment arrives before the season starts.