Surprised by a vaccine mandate that left her unable to play last season, Kyrie Irving has described herself as a “martyr” for being denied a COVID-19 shot while facing heavy scrutiny.
“I wasn’t expecting to bring down a mandate like this where it wasn’t letting me play at all,” Irving told The Boardroom’s “The Etsy” podcast in an episode published Wednesday. “I still had the opportunity to play the game but had no plan, no vision of how it was going to work for our team. And I think it had an impact not only on me, but on a lot of people. Just had to sit in that hot seat for a while and deal with it. Life of a Martyr, Brother. ,
Irving’s anti-vaccination stance initially prompted the Nets to remove the point guard from all games and practices, claiming that it was not possible to be a part-time player only for away competitions. GM Sean Marks quickly backed down and Irving made his Indiana debut on January 5.
Still, New York City’s mandate barred Irving from playing home games until April, leaving the 30-year-old with only 29 appearances during the regular season. The Nets set the playoffs on fire and Irving, who struggled in a first-round sweep for the Celtics, admitted that his absence was a hindrance.
“I had to play catch-up,” Irving said. “And playing catch-up in a league that’s only getting better is not a position you want to be in.”
Irving, who still hasn’t explained his reason for rejecting the vaccine beyond “personal decision,” clearly doesn’t regret his decision. And while becoming a hero of the anti-vax and anti-mandate movements – for example, receiving praise from right-wing politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) – Irving was panned by several media outlets for thwarting his team.
ESPN maven Stephen A. Smith was a tireless critic of Irving last season.
,[The mandate] completely turned me off. I didn’t expect it to come this season, Irving said, it will be all on my plate. “It was an ultimatum given to me, it’s either you act and get vaccinated as if this ultimatum was given to other people, or you sit at home and now we talk about you and me personally And they all make decisions and stuff.
“I had to deal with both ends of the spectrum. I sat right in the middle. I knew I was doing the right thing for myself. And I had to stick to that decision. And I’m grateful I got through it.” I had a great support system because it wasn’t easy.
Irving could reduce his $37 million player option to become a free agent this summer. He has publicly expressed his desire to return to the Nets and continue his partnership with Kevin Durant, although Brooklyn must decide whether the player has entered at least 68 games just once over the past seven seasons in the long run. Is it wise to invest till now or not?
Durant is signed until 2026 and Irving has indicated he wants to go through that contract with his partner.
“I want to put together four consecutive years of team dominance,” Irving said. “Winning over 60 games. Go deep into the playoffs and have fun off-court relationships. ,