The Brooklyn Nets have fallen from a secure spot near the top of the Eastern Conference standings toward the backend of the playoff picture. Kyrie Irving‘s limited status combined with Kevin Durant’s MCL injury and James Harden’s departure have resulted in the Nets dropping their last 10 straight games.
Through it all, Irving hasn’t budged from his decision not to take the COVID-19 vaccine. As the star guard holds part-time status, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal fired off a stern message.
Kyrie Irving won’t pivot from his stance
Since last offseason, the Nets star point guard has remained firm in not taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite the statewide vaccine mandate for indoor businesses, Brooklyn caved in last month to bring back Irving on a part-time basis due to injuries decimating the roster. The 29-year-old has played in only road games, where he’s averaging 23.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 45.2 from the floor and 36.8% from beyond the arc in 13 games.
Irving voiced last month that no team injury situation or other circumstance will change his mind on taking the shot.
“That’s what I think comes into a lot of this culture and basketball and sport and entertainment,” Irving said last month via ESPN. “You bring in teams and you bring in situations. Kev’s going to heal, Kev’s going to be OK, and we’re going to have to deal with that as his teammates. But in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision. And that’s just what it is.”
The situation has led a Hall of Fame big man to drop his unfiltered opinion.
Shaquille O’Neal wants no part of Kyrie Irving’s part-time status with Nets
As the Nets stumble further down the standings, Kyrie Irving’s availability status for the remainder of the season has become a central topic of discussion.
Irving’s unmoved decision to not take the COVID-19 vaccine has prevented him from playing in home games due to New York’s current mandate regarding the matter. During a recent interview with Sideline Sources, Shaquille O’Neal voiced that if he were teammates with Irving, he wouldn’t want him around.
“If you’re on my team and you can’t play home games, I don’t want you around,” O’Neal said. “Like, we have a chance to win and if you ain’t on the program, go somewhere else, period.”
Although O’Neal recently softened his stance on mandating taking the vaccine, he doesn’t believe the Nets should have Irving around in a part-time status. He’s provided a much-needed offensive boost when he’s played, but his absence leaves the franchise without a key contributor.
All that is further underlined with Durant sidelined due to his knee injury and James Harden traded. The Nets have featured their big three together 16 times over the last two seasons.
Brooklyn has shown it could have success with a pair of its stars together, but the team is flailing without any of them leading the charge. Irving may not change his stance, but his team’s results are hard to ignore.
New York City mayor Eric Adams dictates the Nets star guard’s availability
Kyrie Irving’s availability adheres to the state of New York’s mandate requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for indoor business.
A significant shift occurred after governor Kathy Hochul tweeted on Wednesday that the statewide mask-or-vaccine rule for indoor business ends on Feb. 10. However, Irving still will not be allowed to play in home games if New York City mayor Eric Adams keeps the local city mandate. Adams’ recent comments don’t appear to follow suit with that change.
“We have to adhere to what we put out,” Adams said via ABC7 NY. “They’re not being terminated, they are quitting. Because if the rules of you being employed means vaccinated and you’re not that is a decision you’re making not a decision we’re making as a city. I say don’t quit on New York. Take your vaccine and booster shot.”
The Nets have 27 remaining regular-season games, in which they play 12 more road games. Irving can participate in all but three (two games against the New York Knicks and one facing the Toronto Raptors). The Nets could potentially play in their most pivotal games without their star point guard.