Australia

‘I know the consequences’: Benched NBA star Kyrie Irving defends vax stance

Australian-born NBA star Kyrie Irving says he accepts he could lose millions of dollars for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier this week the Brooklyn Nets announced they were benching their star player because he was not able to train or play in New York City.

New York laws require professional athletes to be vaccinated to train or play in public venues.

The Nets said they would not put the team in a situation where Irving was part-time and only playing in games outside New York.

Speaking on Instagram Live, Irving said he loved basketball and wasn’t going to retire.

“It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you.

“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonised for that, that’s just what it is.

“That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”

Irving is due $US35.3 million ($47.9 million) this season, in the third year of a four-year, $US136.5 million deal he signed in July 2019.

He said he supported people who were and weren’t vaccinated and expressed appreciation for doctors.

The All-Star guard didn’t give any indication that he was against being vaccinated, just that he was deciding not to.

“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organisation, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics,” Irving said. “It’s not any one thing.

“It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”

Irving has not spoken to reporters since the Nets’ media day on September 27, when he appeared via Zoom and asked for privacy when questioned about his vaccination status.

General manager Sean Marks has said the team would gladly welcome Irving back under the right circumstances, and Irving made clear he was going to play again.

“There’s still so much more work to do and there still so many other (youngsters) to inspire, because I know they want to be better than me.”

AP/ABC


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