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NBA star misses team training during New York’s COVID vaccination restrictions

Kyrie Irving did not practise with the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Tuesday (local time), again remaining away from the team amid questions about his availability to play in the city because of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Irving has not said if he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, asking for privacy when pressed about his status during the Nets’ media day last month.

He was not with his teammates that day, instead appearing via Zoom.

New York has a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for athletes who play or practise in the city.

Nets coach Steve Nash said he had no further update about the status of his All-Star guard.

“We support him (Irving), we’re here for him. When things change and there’s a resolution, we’re here for him,” he said.

The Nets held a training camp last week in San Diego, with Irving present and practising.

They ran their first practice at their training facility in Brooklyn on Tuesday (local time) with everyone except Irving.

Nash said he was not concerned about not being able to have his full team together two weeks before the Nets play the NBA’s season-opening game against reigning champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We’re just trying to work every day,” Nash said.

“So we came in today and had a great practice and we’ll do the same tomorrow and that’s kind of where I’ll leave it.”

The NBA does not require players to be vaccinated, but those who are not face frequent coronavirus testing and severe restrictions on their activities.

Players in New York and San Francisco — which has a similar mandate soon going into effect — will not be paid for the games they miss.

NBA icon LeBron James and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo are among a host of players who have recently confirmed they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The New York Knicks have said their entire team is vaccinated. And Andrew Wiggins recently became the last of the Golden State Warriors to get a shot, leaving Irving as the lone player potentially facing a pay cut for virus reasons.

Nash frequently pointed to a lack of practice time last season as a problem for the Nets, with the condensed schedule and coronavirus testing forcing them instead to often opt for rest.

He said the team would not consider holding practice outside the city, even if it would ensure the entire roster would be available.

“No, this is our home and this is where we’re going to practise and we have almost the whole group,” Nash said.

“So that’s a positive and we’re just working at getting better every day and focusing on the things we can control.”

AP


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