With the NBA season underway, COVID-19 concerns have been more prevalent, and problems are on the rise for certain players, franchises, and even the league as a whole.
NBA star and influential figure, Kyrie Irving, has been benched from his duties on the court until he decides to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Brooklyn, home to Kyrie’s Nets, has mandated that athletes receive the vaccine, effectively side-lining him for all of their 42 home games, and the Nets decided to one-up that, saying that he would just be out of the picture entirely.
Irving marks the last Brooklyn player without the vaccine, but this isn’t the first time he has stood out from the crowd off the court. In early 2017, Irving claimed that the earth was flat, and even featured Illuminati symbols on his shoes. Irving is set to lose 20 million dollars, a serious chance at a championship, and even his job if he continues to hold out, yet Kyrie has defended and stood by his decision, a serious surprise to many surrounding the NBA.
The NBA season kicked off on October 19, featuring a highly anticipated matchup between the reigning champion Bucks, and the talent-loaded Nets. Kyrie was nowhere to be seen and was missed on the court. The Nets were blown out by 20 after their superstar PG was on the sidelines.
NBA Hall of Famer and legend, Charles Barkley, even called out Kyrie on TNT after the game: “First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people.” Barkley proceeded to call him selfish and was also clearly annoyed about Irving’s financial situation since he is still set to make 20 million dollars this season. The seven-time all-star will still make money off of away games since it is the Net’s decision to bench him for those, whereas it was the city’s call for home games due to the COVID vaccine mandates in Brooklyn.
A handful of NBA legends have chimed in on the subject, with Kareen Abdul Jabbar adding to the Rolling Stone, “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff, and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research.”
A week into the season, Kyrie’s future in the NBA remains up in the air, as the Nets fall to 1-2 with the loss of their all-star point guard. As the season rolls forward, Irving stays at home with his feet up, leaving us to wonder when the Allstar will once again step on the hardwood in search of an NBA championship.