For the foreseeable future, Kyrie Irving has finished playing and training with the Nets. And it looks like they’re done talking about him.
Irving tried to clean the air on Wednesday night, but instead he simply covered his tracks. In a lengthy social media monologue, he discussed his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and said he was promised he would be allowed to play despite not having been vaccinated.
But that doesn’t happen, with his refusal to adhere to New York City’s vaccination mandates preventing him from playing at home, and the Nets deciding not to use Irving at all. Or in the case of trainer Steve Nash, listen to his star’s Instagram Live rant.
“I didn’t listen to it, and I think I said pretty much everything I had to say about it,” Nash said ahead of Thursday’s preseason final against Minnesota. “If anything changes, we’ll talk about it. But I really want to focus on the future, our group and the solutions to the challenge that lies ahead. “
This response was to a question from The Post if Irving had expressed the same feelings to the Nets, or if there was something about the session that surprised Nash. And arguably the most notable part – aside from Irving who twice dismissed recent reports that he might be retiring – was his implication that he was promised he would be able to play despite the fact that he is not vaccinated.
“What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the shot?” Irving said on Instagram Live. “It was not a problem before the start of the season. It wasn’t something I planned to come to where I was preparing for it, I got the chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family.
Irving never said who or what organization had misled him.
The NBA has its own set of health and safety protocols that – although they fall short of a vaccine mandate, which the NBPA has opposed – are still restrictive on unvaccinated players. The NBA is offering exemptions, but sources told The Post that Irving would not have requested one.
Andrew Wiggins of Golden State requested a religious exemption, but was rejected.
New York City mandates (like similar mandates for home players in San Francisco and Los Angeles) replace anything the league could rule.
“I came into the season thinking I was just going to be able to play ball, be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way,” said Irving. “Why are you putting this on me?” “
Atlanta goalie Brandon Goodwin recently said on Twitch that the vaccine caused the “minor respiratory illness” that ended his 2020-21 season.
More than 700,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. A recent scientific study showed that more than 90,000 deaths since June have been prevented by vaccination, and a staggering 49,000 last month alone.
The NBA sent a memo to all of its teams on September 1 that the teams would follow all local mandates. The New York warrants took effect on September 13.
On September 24, the league announced that it had rejected Wiggins’ exemption request. The Warriors forward gave in and was quickly vaccinated.
But while many in the Nets organization expected Irving to be vaccinated before camp began, it now seems unlikely that he would give in anytime soon. It was telling that – when asked to experiment with big lineups – Nash said the Nets had to “adjust to our new type of roster, so to speak.”
“I don’t know if I have anything exceptional to say on this matter, other than when you lose exceptional talent like that, your roster is built in a way on the parameters of having three guys. So everyone has to slide to one place, or more. So we have to win with the knowledge of the business, the growth of last season, the connectivity, the team spirit and the making of connections that transfer on and off the pitch. “
Irving said his stance was neither political nor anti-vaccine, but the unintended consequences made him a darling of the far right, hailed by Donald Trump Jr., Senator Ted Cruz and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene .