Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving is once again in the news for the wrong reasons. The All-Star, who is not vaccinated, will not play or practice with the Nets until he gets the COVID-19 vaccine.
Irving is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. Ever since he requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017, the three-time All-NBA guard has said and done multiple questionable things, making him an “enigma.”
Kyrie Irving is “enigma of the century”
One of Irving’s teammates told Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone that the one-time champion is the “enigma of the century.” The Duke product stands to lose millions of dollars if he doesn’t get the vaccine, and it sounds like he doesn’t care.
Nets general manager Sean Marks released a strong statement detailing why his starting point guard won’t practice or play until he gets the vaccine. New York City requires players to be vaccinated to play in the market. Irving could have played in road games, but Marks wasn’t comfortable with that.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Marks said. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
Irving will lose $380,000 per home game if he doesn’t get the vaccine. While that is certainly a situation hard to follow since it’s a lot of money to forfeit over a refusal to get a vaccine that is backed by science, it’s not the strangest thing the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year has done.
Kyrie Irving was reportedly angry after winning title in 2016
One of Irving’s teammates thinks he’s an enigma and this next story goes along with that. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Irving was angry after the Cavaliers won the 2016 Finals over the Golden State Warriors despite hitting the game-winning shot over Stephen Curry.
“Kyrie is a strange dude,” Windhorst said on his podcast in 2019. “He won the Finals, and he was angry. He seriously won the Finals, his father and sister came out to hug him, and he was angry. He was mad in that moment. And then, when he got to the locker room, while his teammates were celebrating, he FaceTimed Kobe (Bryant).”
Why would a player be angry after winning the championship? Only Irving can answer that question, but it’s clear Uncle Drew is a different kind of cat.
After requesting a trade from the Cavaliers in 2017, Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics. He told Celtics fans before the start of the 2018-19 season that he would re-sign with Boston in the summer of 2019. However, in classic Irving fashion, he marched to the beat of his own drum.
Seven-time All-Star went back on his word, signed with Nets
Irving told Celtics fans at the TD Garden that he would re-sign with the franchise. However, as the 2018-19 season went on, Kyrie began to change his mind and ultimately went back on his word.
In the summer of 2019, Irving signed a four-year deal with the Nets, who also got Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Celtics fans despise Irving so much that one of them threw a bottle at him in the 2021 playoffs. The talented guard was seen on camera stomping on the Celtics logo before he walked back to the locker room.
Irving is undoubtedly one of the top players in the league. He averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 2020-21 and became the ninth player in NBA history to hit 50/40/90 benchmarks in a single season. However, he’s been a distraction in Cleveland, Boston, and now Brooklyn. If he stands firm on not getting the vaccine, we may have seen the last of Irving in the NBA.