Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets Put Vaccine Issue Behind Them

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The Brooklyn Nets have arguably had a more tumultuous year than any other franchise in the NBA. Their plans of contending during the 2021-22 season were derailed early on when Kyrie Irving opted against getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

That rendered him ineligible to play in more than half of the games last season, as New York City had a vaccine mandate in place. That meant Irving was not allowed to play in games at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden. He was also ineligible to play in Toronto.

That led to the Nets deciding that Irving would not be allowed to play at all.

While he was allowed to play in road games, the franchise decided he wouldn’t play until he was eligible full-time. They reversed course around Christmas, but Irving still only appeared in 29 games last season.

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It was not an easy decision for Irving to make, as he gave up a lot by not being vaccinated and by remaining unvaccinated today. It was something that he discussed during the team’s Media Day earlier this week.

“I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the 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.”

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General manager Sean Marks also spoke about how negotiations with Irving went. Unable to count on him being available full-time, contract negotiations between the two sides stalled out. Brooklyn was unwilling at the time to sign him to a long-term contract and that sentiment remained the same this past offseason.

“So two summers ago, that was pre-citywide, statewide mandates that went in,” Marks said. “So once the vaccine mandates came in, and we knew how that would affect [Irving] playing home games and so forth, that’s when contract talks stalled. So it didn’t get to [a point], ‘Here’s the deal, now take it back.’ That never happened.”

LATEST NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Kyrie Irving & Brooklyn Nets Updates

While there have certainly been some ups and downs during his first three seasons with the team, both parties were able to put things behind them in recent weeks. Irving is committed to the Nets and wants to do everything he can to rehab his value as he is slated to hit unrestricted free agency in 2023.

“At the end of the day, we’re happy that Kyrie is back here,” Marks said. “I’m listening to the press conference he had this morning and my takeaway from that is that he’s committed. He understands that in order for him to be a free agent and get what he rightfully wants, he’s going to have to show commitment out there. We’re happy to support him in any possible way throughout the season to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go.”

At this point in time, the Nets are drama free and focused solely on basketball. Everyone is committed to a common goal of trying to bring a championship to the franchise.