One of the NBA's most entertaining analysts, Charles Barkley, sounded serious when asked about his opinion on the Kyrie Irving situation with the Brooklyn Nets. Like fellow analyst Jeff Van Gundy, Barkley's stand on vaccination of players is clear: it's a sacrifice everyone in the team needs to make.
Kyrie Irving making $17 million despite not playing
Barkley joined Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jeff Van Gundy, and Adam Silver in saying that players need to get vaccinated, not only for themselves but for their families, teams, and the whole NBA in general. When asked about his opinion on Irving and the stalemate with the Nets, the Hall of Famer has this to say in the podcast Takeoff with John Clark.
"He's going to get paid for the road game. I'm glad the team laid down the law and said, 'We can't have you playing half the games.' But he's still going to make $17 million, which is a travesty and a disgrace. John, listen, I think everybody should get vaccinated, and I'm a big proponent of that. And there's a lot of people who have lost their lives. They've lost their jobs, they've lost their businesses, their livelihoods, their restaurants, and they're never going to get those back. And for him to be selfish and like, 'Well, I'm still going to make 17 million sitting at home.' I just don't think that's right. I don't think that's fair, period. So I'm just disappointed because number one, when you're on a team, you have to make sacrifices. And to me, getting a vaccine is a no brainer sacrifice."
Charles Barkley, Takeoff
Barkley raised a good point: Irving will still get paid millions even if he skips home games. He will still laugh his way to the bank no matter what the bashers and critics will say. Moving forward, NBA contracts should be revisited and discussed on how to avoid similar situations in the future without stepping on the individual rights and freedom of players.
Should players receive no pay if they refuse to follow team rules or policies?
Irving's situation is a good chance for the NBA and players' union to discuss a situation in which similar incidents happen again. Any player has the choice and freedom to decide for their body, but it should affect other people's lives and businesses. In Kyrie's case, the whole team and the fans will be affected if he misses home games. It also sends the wrong message to the little ones who treat him as their idol.
Losing money due to sanctions and penalties made Andrew Wiggins reconsider his anti-vaccination stand. Ben Simmons was forced to return to the team after the Philadelphia 76ers stopped paying him for missing practices. Will taking money away from multi-millionaires such as Irving force them to change their mind? Will additional sanctions and fines make a difference?
Each player must sacrifice something as part of the team with a common goal to win the title. It could mean sacrificing time with family to work on your game in the off-season or sacrificing your stats for other teammates to shine. For Barkley, getting the vaccine is a no-brainer sacrifice. The virus kills, and its effects can be felt in people who lost their jobs or loved ones during the pandemic. It's a small effort on the part of Irving, but it seems there is no chance that the seven-time All-Star will change his mind anytime soon.