Giannis Antetokounmpo Gave a Rare and Insightful Answer When Asked About Kyrie Irving’s Vaccination Status: ‘It Takes so Much Energy and Takes Energy Away From Basketball’

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is finally back in the news for something basketball-related as he’s been given the go-ahead to take part in the team’s road games. Yet even that still surrounds his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

When Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked what he would do if he played alongside Irving in Brooklyn, the contemplative superstar gave an insightful answer.

As we’re beginning to expect from Antetokounmpo, it was a well-thought-out response, and it wasn’t the typical black and white answer that often comes with the topic.

Kyrie Irving has still elected not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Until a Jan. 5 matchup in Indiana against the Pacers, Irving had not taken the floor in an NBA game since last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals against Milwaukee.

Kyrie was hurt in Game 4 and never returned in that series.

The former Duke Blue Devil has stuck to his guns and has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, and therefore per New York City mandate, has not been allowed to enter Brooklyn’s facility.

Irving has always been allowed to play road games, but the organization chose to take a hard stance — either he would be a full-time part of the team or not play at all.

But Brooklyn finally relaxed that stance, and Kyrie can now play anywhere outside of New York or Toronto.

The Bucks played at the Nets on Jan. 7 — so Irving wasn’t in the building — but Antetokounmpo was asked what it would be like to be his teammate with the Nets.

It’s become a common question not only in NBA circles but in society in general, and the answers usually lean one way or the other. In this situation, the answer seems to often be that either Kyrie should be vaccinated for the good of his team, or he should have the freedom to do what he thinks is right.

Giannis, though, came up with a different answer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a level-headed, empathetic message about the Nets star

Irving’s actual Brooklyn teammates have been asked the question almost relentlessly since before the season even began.

But when Giannis was asked what he would do — in Kevin Durant’s situation, for example — he had an extended, reflective response.

This was part of the two-time MVP’s answer, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:

“If he doesn’t want to do it, I can’t keep pressuring him. I’ve got to focus on myself and come every day and do my job, because that’s what I get paid to do. I don’t know what relationship they have (his teammates), what kind of relationship they have. They probably have talked to him but they cannot keep pressuring him to do something he doesn’t feel comfortable because it takes so much energy and takes energy away from basketball.

“That’s why we’re here.”

The rare part of the answer isn’t the “they cannot keep pressuring him to do something he doesn’t feel comfortable (with)” part. That’s been said dozens, if not hundreds of times at this point.

But Antetokounmpo took it a step further and answered with more perspective. It’s not just about the vaccine. For him, as a teammate, the conversations would have to end at some point because it would begin to cost the team energy that could better be used elsewhere.

Not to mention the fact that there’s really no reason he had to think this hard about a purely hypothetical question that has nothing to do with him or the Bucks. But he chose to anyway.

The team always comes first for Giannis. This is just another case of that mentality shining through. Even when it’s not basketball-related, what’s best for the team is what becomes the right decision for the two-time MVP.

Kyrie remains limited to playing in home games for now

As it stands, Irving is still under the New York City mandate, and as an unvaccinated individual, cannot enter the Nets facility.

Maybe at some point that changes. Either Kyrie decides to get the vaccine, or the organization allows him to play at home and pays a fine, which reported to be an option.

Whatever the case, this topic isn’t going away. If anything, the questions will ramp up the closer we get to the postseason.

But more of the Giannis-type answers would be a welcome change when it happens.

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