Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets until he is eligible to become a full participant under New York’s Covid-19 vaccine rules, his team has confirmed.
Irving cannot play home games before the upcoming NBA season because of his vaccination status and Net’s general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday the All-Star Point Guard won’t play at all until the situation changes.
In a statement, the Nets said, “Kyrie made a personal choice and we respect his individual right to vote. Currently, the election will limit his or her ability to be a full-time member of the team and we will not allow any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.
“It is imperative that we continue to build up the chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and willingness to make sacrifices.
“Our championship goals for the season haven’t changed, and to achieve those goals every member of our organization has to pull together.
“We look forward to the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the Brooklyn borough proud.”
New York City rules require proof of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter indoor public spaces and venues, which has prevented Irving from being able to attend his team’s 41 home games at the Brooklyn Center as well as the New York Knicks’ Madison Square Garden to participate.
The Nets open their season against NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks on October 19, and Irving has not yet played any of the team’s prep games.
When asked about his vaccination status at the pre-season Nets media day, 29-year-old Irving refused to respond, saying it was a “private” issue.
Seven-time all-star Irving, a former Cleveland Cavaliers NBA champion, joined the Nets as a free agent in 2019 along with Kevin Durant.
The team’s title ambitions were bolstered by the arrival of James Harden last season, but the Nets were defeated by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Nets head coach Steve Nash said Monday the team is preparing to do without Irving this season, adding that they are “trying to figure it out over time”.
“We know he doesn’t play at home,” said Nash. “We will definitely have to play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.
“I think at the moment we assume he won’t be available for home games, but everything can change. Who should say City ordinances could change. Everything could change.
“At the moment we’re just trying to be flexible and open-minded and find out because the information comes in like half the day. Things are shifting. Nobody’s been through this before, and we’re just trying to find out as time goes on. “