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Though the Nets could definitely use him, especially now with Kevin Durant sidelined with his MCL injury, Kyrie Irving isn’t going to change his mind on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Irving insisted on Monday, after their 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, that he wasn’t going to budge.
“I’ve made my decision already and I’m standing on it,” Irving said, via Nets Daily’s Matt Brooks.
Kyrie Irving gave a very long answer about his vaccination status, but he ended with:
"I've made my decision already and I'm standing on it."
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) January 17, 2022
Irving, of course, is one of the last coronavirus vaccine holdouts in the NBA and is still not allowed to play in home games for the Nets due to a New York City mandate. Irving made his season debut with the Nets earlier this month after the team reversed course and allowed him to play part-time.
Irving hasn’t given much of a specific answer as to why he won’t get vaccinated, other than claiming he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.” He made similar claims in a long-winded answer on Monday, and actually said that he is “not bringing science into the basketball game.”
What he means by that isn’t really clear. The only science at hand here is that Irving would be at a much lower risk of contracting, getting sick and spreading the coronavirus if he got vaccinated. And if he followed that science, he'd be allowed to play in every game with his teammates.
“I stay rooted in my decision,” he said, via NBC Sports. “That’s just what it is. It’s not going to be swayed by one thing in this NBA life that is somehow brought to my attention as being more important than what’s going on in the real world. It’s just not happening for me.”
Nash: ‘We can’t cry’ about Kevin Durant’s injury
With Irving not willing to get vaccinated, the Nets will have trouble over the next month or more.
Durant sprained the MCL in his left knee in Saturday’s 120-105 win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Though the team didn’t announce how severe that sprain was or how long he’d be gone, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Durant is going to miss four-to-six weeks at least.
At best, Durant’s earliest return would come just after the All-Star break next month.
Thankfully for the Nets, 11 of their next 16 games are on the road — meaning that Irving should be available. Irving, James Harden and Durant have played just two games together this season due to Irving’s vaccine holdout and other injuries.
While Nets coach Steve Nash would obviously love to have his three stars on the court at the same time ahead of any potential postseason run, he’s not going to get upset about the situation he’s in now in mid-January.
“If they get a bunch of games together, great. If they don’t, they don’t,” Nash said Monday, via ESPN. “And we’ll be playing the cards we’re dealt so it’s a little bit out of our hands. We just have to do the best we can. We can’t cry about it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We got to keep building, see what we can learn, how we can grow during this period … and how we can continue to move this thing forward so when they do come back, we’re in a better place — and he can rejoin us in a better place where we can feel better about where we are in that part of the season.”