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Brooklyn Nets Bench Unvaccinated Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday that Kyrie Irving’s decision to not comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate left the organization with “no choice” but to send him away from the team until he’s able to fully participate. The vaccine mandate, which went into effect last month, states that anyone entering an indoor gym — including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, the homes of the Nets and New York Knicks — must have had at least one COVID-19 shot.

The team released a statement from General Manager Sean Marks stating that the team had decided Irving was not going to have “part-time availability” and that he would be welcomed back once he complied with New York City’s mandate.

BOSTON, MA – MAY 30: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021, at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

As a result, Irving was unable to play in 43 regular-season games — 41 at Barclays Center, plus two at MSG — and another two preseason games in Brooklyn. Marks confirmed Irving would only lose money for those games, roughly $380,000 per game.

 

After flying to San Diego for training camp and practicing with the Nets for a week, Irving then wasn’t around the team at all last week before a change in the city’s ruling late Friday on the use of the practice facility because it is a “private workspace” — as opposed to a public one like Barclays Center.

During a last-minute news conference on Tuesday, Marks expressed his disappointment with his star player’s continued resistance against getting vaccinated. “He has a choice to make, and he made his choice,” the Nets GM told reporters. “My job here is to make what we deem as the best decision and best choices for the organization moving ahead as a whole. They’re not always ones that are going to be met with open arms and a thumbs-up. These are hard decisions. Just like I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Kyrie either to have to make that [decision] to not be around his teammates.”

When asked if Irving’s fellow stars, Kevin Durant and James Harden, were consulted on this decision, Marks said that “everyone” in the organization was aware of what was going on, but that he and owner Joe Tsai were the ones who made it. “Ultimately, this decision was Joe Tsai and myself, and this decision came down to what we felt was the right move for the organization at this time,” Marks said.



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