The Brooklyn Nets have made their stance on Kyrie Irving's choice regarding vaccination very clear in an official statement from General Manager Sean Marks. In the official announcement, Marks shared that the Brooklyn Nets will not allow any team member to participate part-time, which means Irving's reluctance to get the Covid-19 vaccine will not be joining the team for games or practices. Marks stressed that the decision fell on himself and owner Joe Tsai, but in the age of player empowerment, it is hard to believe that Brooklyn's stars were not consulted on the matter or informed of the decision before the press release.
"There was some hope there in practices, beginning to see how Kyrie could possibly integrate into the team while just playing home games, but shutting that down and saying you're either with us or not with us has to be supported by Kevin Durant. That is a very important point here, as he (Kyrie) has no greater ally in this NBA than Kevin Durant."
Brian Windhorst, ESPN
To be clear, Windhorst did not confirm that Kevin Durant had a hand in the decision or that he even supports this course of action. However, Kyrie came to Brooklyn because Durant was there, and together, they began to shape the culture of this generation's Brooklyn Nets. After everything they did to get him, the front office deciding on something this big without Durant's approval seems foolish and unlikely. This development then begs the question, "Is Kevin Durant done with Kyrie Irving as a teammate? If so, is a trade now more possible than it once was?"
The answer here is a resounding yes! As Windhorst pointed out, Kevin Durant is Kyrie's biggest ally in the league. The Nets tolerated certain behavior from Irving due to his close relationship with Durant. Could Durant's likely endorsement of the decision signal that the relationship between the two is no longer this indestructible bond? If so, then one thing has become clear, Kevin Durant is all-about winning and only wants what is best for the team. In this case, what is best for the team is for the Brooklyn Nets to pick up the phone and start fielding trade offers for Kyrie Irving.
Stephen A. Smith explains precisely why this is a monumental development for the Brooklyn Nets, not just in terms of their relationship with Kyrie Irving and this year's championship hopes but also concerning the future of the franchise. Having Kevin Durant and James Harden playing alongside the role players the Brooklyn Nets have now is enough to win the title. However, Smith implies that poor handling of the situation with Irving could lead to the departure of their other guard, former MVP James Harden. The problem would get highly embarrassing for the Nets if Harden somehow reunited with his General Manager in Houston, Daryl Morey, who is now leading the way for their conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Of course, this problem would disappear instantly if Irving decides to get vaccinated against Covid-19, but Kyrie's stance is not against vaccination. Rather, Kyrie's issue stems from the fact that people's livelihoods are jeopardized due to their personal decisions regarding vaccination against Covid-19. Given that, the likelihood of Irving getting the vaccine and sacrificing his legitimacy in the movement against vaccine mandates is slim. So the issue is no longer a matter of how many NBA games Irving will play for the Brooklyn Nets, but if he will be playing NBA games at all this season or for the rest of his life.