Whenever he was asked to talk about his vaccination status, Kyrie wanted people to respect his privacy. But yesterday, he decided it was time to break the silence and speak out.
The Nets superstar went on Instagram Live to address every issue regarding his choice to go against NYC's vaccine mandates. He started by saying he's neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine and that he fully understands the ramifications of his decision.
"The financial consequences, I know I do not want to even do that," Irving said. "But it is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice."
I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates and just be part of this whole thing. This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do.
Kyrie Irving, Instagram Live
Irving decided to explain his position one day after the Nets announced they would not allow their starting point guard to be a part-time contributor during the 2021-22 regular season, banning him from all team activities until he's vaccinated or the city’s vaccine mandate is lifted. That's when Shams Charania reported about Kyrie dismissing his anti-vax label, trying to become "a voice for the voiceless." The Nets superstar said the same thing during his Instagram Live.
You’ve got to put your livelihood on the line in order for a mandate that you don’t necessarily agree with all the way. Nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies. You only get one of these. If you choose to get a vaccine, I support you. If you choose to be unvaccinated, I support you. Do what’s best for you. But that doesn’t mean going around, start judging people for what they’re doing with their lives.
Kyrie Irving, Instagram Live
Irving also denied rumors about his retirement in case he's traded from the Nets. "Nobody is hijacking this voice," he said. "See if they play this on their TV channels and if they play this actual truth somewhere before you start talking about me and what I am doing with my life. And no, I am not retiring. And no, I am not going and leaving this game like this. There is still so much more work to do."
Irving's championship aspirations are still there. He also seems open to the idea of eventually getting the vaccine in an environment where people who decide not to get it aren't being punished for it. Until then, he'll stick to his beliefs and remain sidelined, losing millions of dollars in the process -- the latest reports say the Nets are no longer offering Kyrie a $187M contract extension.
"It's not about the money," Irving said. "It's about choosing what's best for you." And at this moment, the 29-year-old feels this is the best thing for him. At least he has no plans to retire. That's something NBA fans can be happy about, as the Kyrie Irving saga continues.