"I gave up 4 years, $100-something million deciding to be unvaccinated," said Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving said at the team's press day yesterday. "That was the decision, it was: contract [and] 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 — for this decision."
Irving refused to be vaccinated last season, even as New York City's mandate required it for Brooklyn Nets home games. That kept him out of Brooklyn's rotation for much of the season, until the requirement was lifted in March.
Irving indicated that the decision was not an easy one.
"I had to deal with that real life circumstance of losing my job while trying to secure my future for myself and my family."
“I gave up 4 years, $100-something million deciding to be unvaccinated. I had to deal with that real life circumstance of losing my job.”
– Kyrie Irving pic.twitter.com/QMSZyG4YfC
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) September 26, 2022
Irving is, without a doubt, a box office draw for the NBA , whether at the turnstiles or on TV. It's a sure bet the league and the Nets are happy to have him back with teammate Kevin Durant during for the upcoming season.
The team is prominently featured in the NBA's national TV schedule, especially in January when they'll see nationally-televised matches with the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics; the red-hot Phoenix Suns, who had the best record in the NBA last season; and the rising Philadelphia 76ers featuring ex-Net James Harden and arguably the league's best big man, Joel Embid.
Irving's stance also created issues with Nike, which was "unlikely to extend him to a similar signature deal beyond the 2022-23 season" because of the uncertainty around his career, reported reported ESPN.
It should be noted, however, that even with the Nets waffling on an extension, Irving was still able to opt into a $36 million player option for the coming season. It's an amount that, to most American families, would create generational wealth.
Irving also said he believes his vaccination decision created a "stigma within my career" and that he saw his stance was, in part, meant "to be the voice of the voiceless."
Of the situation with the team Irving said, "I understood all the Nets' points. And I respected it and I honored it, and I didn't appreciate how me being vaccinated, all of a sudden, came to be a stigma within my career that I don't want to play, or I'm willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless. And which I will stand on here and say that, that wasn't the only intent that I had, was to be the voice of the voiceless, it was to stand on something that was going to be bigger than myself and I was going to understand probably far into the future."
“I didn’t appreciate how me being unvaccinated came to be a stigma within my career that I don’t want to play, or that I’m willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless.”
– Kyrie Irving pic.twitter.com/yE6E0GU03N
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) September 26, 2022
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