- The Brooklyn Nets won’t allow Kyrie Irving to be a ‘part time’ player as he refuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Nets’ GM Sean Marks has left Irving with a simple choice: get vaxxed or get out.
- Irving has refused to get vaccinated for inexplicable reasons citing only his ‘personal choice’ as justification.
Kyrie Irving has spent his career being a ‘locker room cancer’. When he’s focused and wants to play he’s a downright amazing talent. At some point, however, his selfishness, ego and attention seeking take over and no amount of talent can justify keeping him around. In Cleveland, he wasn’t happy playing alongside the best player of his generation in LeBron James. He wanted to be the focal point of the team so he forced a trade to the Boston Celtics. Between injuries and his usual shabby, self serving attitude he was a non-factor for the Celtics and let him walk as a free agent.
The Brooklyn Nets were the next sucker to fall for Irving’s rap. Despite Irving’s early career disdain for being a support player to LeBron James, he was signed to become a support player to Kevin Durant and James Harden. He’s played 64 games in two seasons with the Nets and won’t be playing another for an indeterminate length of time due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Brooklyn GM Sean Marks and team owner Joe Tsai have barred Irving from all team activities until he gets vaccinated.
The move is long overdue and a start change in tone from how the Nets have acted to date. Inexplicably, the team has played patty cake with Irving despite his refusal to get vaccinated. They’ve got only accepted Irving’s selfishness but enabled it. Until today, every indication was that the Nets were going to allow Irving to be a ‘part time’ player by joining the team whenever they were playing in a venue without a vaccine mandate. They were seriously planning to pay Irving over $33 million–minus deductions for whatever games he missed–to be an on again/of again member of the team and full time distraction.
Throughout the preseason, head coach Steve Nash genuflected to Irving’s obstinance. He would always frame the absence of Irving as a matter of circumstance, not the conscious decision of a selfish player with a legacy of self absorbed behavior to the detriment of his team. This quote where Nash explains he doesn’t know what is going on–without criticizing Irving–is typical:
“I don’t think that anyone’s really been through this before. Obviously the pandemic has been new to everyone, but now we’re in a position where the pandemic is creating all these different new scenarios as well.”
James Herbert at CBS Sports called out the foolishness of this stance:
Except it’s not the pandemic that has created this scenario. It’s not the city. It’s not the NBA. Irving creates this problem anew every day by choosing not to get vaccinated, for reasons he has declined to share, asking for privacy at Media Day and not talking to reporters during training camp in San Diego or at practice in Brooklyn. (The Athletic reported that Irving is anti-vaccine-mandate, not anti-vaccine, as if that were a meaningful distinction.)
You can’t really blame Nash for trying to be conciliatory. NBA coaches are now hired more to babysit and fawn over superstars. Calling them out over even the most selfish behavior isn’t good for their career longevity. That left it to GM Marks to give this statement in a press release from earlier today:
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant. Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
It’s the right decision but even in this statement Marks speaks in euphemisms instead of being clear about the situation at hand. Marks elaborated at a news conference later in the day:
“Without a doubt, losing a player of Kyrie’s caliber hurts. I’m not going to deny that. But at the end of the day, our focus, our coaches’ focus and our organization’s focus needs to be on those players that are going to be involved here and participating fully.”
Marks didn’t address the possibility of a trade–one likely scenario is that Irving will demand one–though he did explain why the decision was made to keep Irving away:
“Our hope is that we can somewhat put this to rest and move on with the season. We have goals and aspirations to go and achieve out there, and I don’t think we want it to be focused entirely on an individual that is not with the team right now.”
That also assumes that any team will be willing to take on Irving’s bloated contract and horrible attitude while returning to the Nets anything approximating ‘fair value’. For now at least, the Nets remain a +260 favorite to win the NBA Championship in the futures odds at BetOnline.ag.