Kyrie Irving refuses to get the COVID vaccine
By: Charles Houston
The sports world is in an uproar over Kyrie Irving’s decision to not get the COVID vaccine. Fans are divided, one side supporting Irving’s decision and wanting him to play this upcoming season and the other side supporting New York City’s vaccine mandate.
Irving is an all-star point guard who plays for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Brooklyn Nets. Irving recently caught the public’s attention off the court with his controversial decision.
Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2020 on a four-year $140 million deal. The Nets are based out of New York City, New York, and the city has mandated the vaccine. If a citizen of New York City does not get the vaccine, they will be very limited to public interaction and only allowed to leave their residence for essential tasks like grocery shopping.
The Mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio has reiterated several times that the mandate will not be lifted until the COVID cases are lowered and the death rate declines.
NBA policy requires head management and coaching personnel to be vaccinated but has not applied the same rules to players. Over 90% of NBA players have recorded being vaccinated according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Without the vaccine being required by the NBA, the majority of the league were given the opportunity to choose to get the vaccine or not. Players are at the mercy of the city they play out of.
De Blasio is not letting up on the mandate anytime soon, so where does that leave Irving?
Irving was due for a contract extension with the Nets, but the topic of an extension contract when the public caught wind of the COVID vaccine mandate.
Nets General Manager Sean Marks stated that Irving will not be able to participate with the team until he cooperates with the guidelines required by New York City. The player will not be able to practice, travel and play with the teams and will be sent home on unpaid leave.
If Irving continues to not get the vaccine and sit out the rest of the season he could lose up to $15 million and a tug-of-war will begin between Irving and the Nets.