CLEVELAND (AP) –Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving insists an injury to teammate Kevin Durant won’t change his stance on not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Irving, who only recently returned to action after a long stalemate to get a shot, said Monday after a loss to the Cavaliers that he has no intention of getting a shot – and nothing will sway him. .
“It’s already my decision, and I’m sticking to it,” Irving said.
The seven-time All-Star point guard has become something of a lightning rod for his decision not to get vaccinated. And due to COVID-19 mandates in New York regarding public arenas, Irving is not permitted to play in home games.
His decision to remain unvaccinated has a dramatic impact on the Nets and their ability to challenge for an NBA championship, which seemed all but assured when the team landed Irving, Durant and James Harden.
With Durant potentially sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury sustained on Saturday, Irving was asked if he felt more pressure to get a shot.
Irving made it clear that he had no pressure to act.
“That’s what I think comes in a lot of this culture and basketball and sports and entertainment,” Irving said in his strongest comments on the sensitive topic. “You bring teams and you bring situations. Kev will heal. Kev will be fine, and we’re going to have to deal with this as teammates.
“But as far as where I am with my life outside of this, I remain rooted in my decision and that is exactly what it is. It’s not going to be swayed just because of one thing, it’s this NBA life that somehow came to my attention as more important than what’s going on in the world real.
“It just doesn’t happen for me.”
Irving scored a team-high 27 points in Brooklyn’s 114-107 loss to the Cavaliers. It was only his fourth game this season with the Nets, who have struggled with injuries — and other distractions — since acquiring Harden to play with Irving and Durant.
During his postgame interview, Irving said he was bothered that his decision was questioned and almost always framed in the context of his profession — not his personal life.
“I respect everyone’s decision,” he said. “I’m not going to try to convince anyone of anything or anything like that. And although we’re dealing with this right now with Kev, I just know that I’m protected by the organization. I am protected by my teammates. I am protected by every doctor I have spoken to and I remain rooted.
Irving, 29, has never been shy about speaking his mind on any subject, and that openness has often led to criticism and, he says, being misunderstood.
Irving took offense to being asked if there was anything that would make him reconsider the vaccine.
“I live my life most of the time when I’m away from it, so when I say I’m not getting vaccinated, I’m making a choice of my life and somehow it mixes in with ‘What about basketball??′ Like no, bro,” he said.
“We live in a real world. It’s great to be able to do that. I am grateful for the opportunity. I like being with my teammates. I love playing on the Nets, but I’ve already been away long enough to think about it, to process it, to be able to make that decision, to stay strong.
“Understand that people are going to agree and disagree. Circumstances that are at hand I pray that they change and that we are able to do things differently and it’s not just for me – it’s for everyone who is faced with being unvaccinated and being fired from day-to-day work.
“It’s not just about me. This has been my message all along.