Nets' Kyrie Irving addresses playing status: 'I’m staying grounded in what I believe in'
Kyrie Irving Arms elongated black uniform
Kyrie Irving went to Instagram Live Wednesday night and spoke publicly about his situation for the first time since the Nets announced that he would not be allowed to play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.
In a 20-minute session, Irving explained his stance on New York City, calling for all Knicks and Nets players to be vaccinated to play home games at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center.
Irving also said he has no plans to retire because of the vaccine mandate.
“Don't think I'm going to retire. Don't think I'll give up this game for a vaccination mandate or stay unvaccinated, ”he said.
The New York City mandate is an order from Mayor Bill De Blasio. The next Mayor of New York City will have the option to maintain, amend, or revoke the mandate upon taking office on January 1, 2022.
On his Instagram Live, Irving suggested that he expect an exemption from mandate ahead of the season.
"What would you do if you felt uncomfortable at the start of the season if you were promised that you would have exemptions or not be forced to get the vaccine?" said Irving. “That wasn't an issue before the start of the season. This wasn't something I saw coming where I would prepare and I had a chance to develop a strategy of what would be best for me and my family. I came into the season thinking that I could just play ball and use my talent to keep inspiring and influencing people in the right way. "
Irving is allowed to train and play street games at the Nets facility in Brooklyn (except for games at Madison Square Garden). But he can't play home games at the Barclays Center.
The Nets ruled Tuesday that they didn't want Irving to become a part-time player.
It is unclear whether Irving has officially requested an exemption from the local mandate.
Irving said Wednesday that he respects everyone's choice of whether or not to get vaccinated, but he doesn't believe a vaccination mandate should force someone to risk their livelihood.
“We have just got through one of the craziest pandemics of all time and you are telling me to think rationally. How many people really think rationally? I'm not the focus here, ”said Irving. “I got in here to really show that I was real enough to stand up when I felt like I was being put in a tired position. ... I didn't hurt anyone. I have not committed a crime. I'm not out here acting stupid, stupid. I take care of my family, my children out here. I'm out here to play for the Youngins. I'm out here trying to create a legacy that will last a lifetime, like multiple lifetimes. ...
“I only think for everyone who has to do with similar things that I deal with. You have to risk your livelihood on a mandate that you don't necessarily fully agree with. Nobody should be forced to do anything with their body. Nobody should be forced to do anything with their body. You only get one of these. If you choose the vaccine, I will support you. If you decide not to vaccinate, I will support you. Do what is best for you. "
Irving is docked approximately $ 380,000 for every home game he misses. His absence also affects the Nets' pursuit of a title.
"It's not always about the money, it's about choosing the best for you," said Irving. “Do you think I really want to lose money? Do you think I really want to give up my dream of a championship? "
The All-Star Point Guard emphasized that this has nothing to do with the Nets' decision not to let him train or play in street games, but that he stands by what he believes in.
“I will always be true to myself, and I am. That is my life. I can do what I want with it, ”said Irving. “This is a body that I get here, a god body that I get here, and you are telling me what to do with my body. And that has nothing to do with the organization. I'll get that out of there. It has nothing to do with the networks, it has nothing to do with my teammates. It all has to do with what's going on in our world, and I'm grouped into something bigger than just the basketball game.
"I'm human. I have emotions, I have feelings, I have thoughts, things that I keep to myself, things that I share, but I stay grounded in what I believe in. It's that simple. It it's not about being anti-vax or being on one side or the other, it's just about being true to what feels good to me, I'm still unsure of a lot of things and that's okay too If I'm being demonized for having more questions and taking the time to make a decision about my life, that's exactly it. I have to sit in there. I know the consequences of the choices I make for my life . I'm not here to gloss over it all. "
In closing, Irving reiterated that he is not retiring and hopes that things will be cleared up at some point so that he can be back on the ground with his teammates.
“Do what is best for you, but I am not a mutual advocate. I do what is best for myself, ”said Irving. “I know the ramifications here, and if that means being judged and demonized for it, then that's exactly what, that's the role I'm playing.
“I love this game, but sometimes you really have to make decisions that ultimately affect it. And it's unfortunate, but that's where we are in 2021.… No, I'm not retiring, and no, I'm not going to leave this game like this. There is still so much to do. "
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