Refusing to comply with the NBA’s Covid vaccine mandate cost over $100 million and a four-year contract extension, Brooklyn Nets’ point guard Kyrie Irving explained Monday.
“I gave up four years, $100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision,” Irving told reporters during the Nets’ media day, adding he had to come to terms with the gravity of his decision.
“[Get this] contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you’re going to be in this league, whether you’re going to be on this team, so I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision.”
Irving was sidelined by his team during home games throughout the 2021 season after famously refusing to adhere to New York City’s experimental mRNA jab mandate.
As a result, his contract has remained up in the air, and he says he feels he’s being given “an ultimatum” between getting the jab and being able to play.
“We were supposed to have all that figured out before training camp last year,” he told reporters. “And it just didn’t happen because of the status of me being vaccinated, unvaccinated. So, I understood their point and I just had to live with it. It was a tough pill to swallow, honestly.”
“On a serious note, I felt like I was forced with an ultimatum of whether or not I had a contract or not, whether or not I could be on the team or be around the team, whether or not I was vaccinated. So, tough conversations again that were had,” he said.
In a statement to ESPN, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks disputed Irving’s view, saying, “There’s no ultimatum being given here… Again, it goes back to you want people who are reliable, people who are here, and accountable. All of us: staff, players, coaches, you name it. It’s not giving somebody an ultimatum to get a vaccine. That’s a completely personal choice. I stand by Kyrie. I think if he wants, he’s made that choice. That’s his prerogative completely.”
Irving added his unpopular decision “came to be a stigma within my career,” but that he wasn’t simply intending to be a sacrificial lamb for the anti-Covid vaccine movement; he just wanted to stand for something bigger than himself.
“I understood all the Nets’ points,” Irving told the media. “And I respected it and I honored it, and I didn’t appreciate how me being unvaccinated, all of a sudden, came to be a stigma within my career that I don’t want to play, or I’m willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless. And… which I will stand on here and say that, that wasn’t the only intent that I had, was to be the voice of the voiceless, it was to stand on something that was going to be bigger than myself.”
In March, NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced the city would expand its vaccine mandate exemption for athletes and performers, finally allowing Irving to join his team on the court.
The press conference comes as Irving made headlines earlier this month after sharing a flashback video on social media of Infowars founder Alex Jones prophetically warning about the tyrannical New World Order.
Kyrie Irving just posted a video clip entitled “Never Forget – Alex Jones Tried To Warn Us” with Jones claiming back in 2002 that a “New World Order” would release “plagues upon us…” pic.twitter.com/sz2Ps7Fbrn
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 15, 2022
Follow the author on Truth Social: @adansalazarwins