Stephen A. Smith Blasts Kyrie Irving for Betraying Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets Due to His Egregious Refusal to Get Vaccinated: ‘He Has Left Them Hanging’

When Kevin Durant left the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets, he did so with the intention of playing with close friend Kyrie Irving. Yet on Tuesday night, when the Warriors thrashed KD’s Nets, Irving was nowhere to be found. That’s because the 29-year-old malcontent has been barred from participating in any games or practices due to his stubborn refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine.

By this point, no one knows when or if Irving will come back. But every game he misses further solidifies his betrayal of his team and friend, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

The Brooklyn Nets have missed Kyrie Irving

Entering the 2021-22 season, the Nets were among the favorites for a title. And how could they not be? With former MVPs Durant and James Harden, a wildly-skilled All-Star in Irving, and a deep rotation of role players, Brooklyn had the makings of an NBA Finals team. But without Irving, they’re just a decent team with noticeable weaknesses.

Following Tuesday’s 117-99 loss to Golden State, the Nets rank 16th in offensive rating. Last season, with all three All-Stars leading the way, they had a league-leading offensive rating. Meanwhile, their defensive rating just cracks the top 10.

Another concern stems from how all five of Brooklyn’s losses have been decided by 13 points or more. Additionally, the losses all came against playoff-caliber teams. The Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and Miami Heat have been the three strongest teams in the NBA and each handled the Nets with ease, while the surprising Charlotte Hornets and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks also dominated.

“The goal is to be the best team at the end of the season,” Harden told the New York Post after the game. “Right now we’re nowhere near that.”

Stephen A. Smith believes Kyrie Irving is betraying the Nets

Brooklyn’s loss to Golden State highlighted some serious issues the team needs to work on in order to rise back to contending status. But one thing they can’t control is getting Irving back on the court. That, ultimately, is up to him alone.

On Wednesday’s episode of First Take on ESPN, Smith explained how Kyrie’s explicit refusal to be there for his team is a slap in the face, particularly when it comes to Durant.

“If this continues, Kevin Durant is going to be more known for leaving Steph Curry than joining him,” Smith said. “He will be known as the guy who left Steph Curry to join Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving betrayed this man, betrayed the organization. [And] I’m going to go a step further. Kyrie Irving has betrayed the game of basketball.”

From there, Smith went on an impassioned tirade about why Irving needs to set aside his foolish pride and support his teammates.

“I can’t tell you how many countless people I ran into last night [at the arena]. Didn’t want to take the vaccine, wish they didn’t have to, everybody lamenting it, whatever. But in the world that we live in — company to company, industry to industry, arena to arena, team to team, league to league — you gotta adjust. This brother says ‘No’ after he got these dudes to come to Brooklyn. He has left them hanging. And if there was ever a moment where the Brooklyn Nets desperately needed Kyrie Irving, it was last night.”

Stephen A. Smith

To cap off his point, Smith also said he would never hand Irving more than a one-year deal because he “can’t be trusted.”

“He will leave you hanging,” added Stephen A. “That is the message that Kyrie Irving has sent. And the person that needs to accept it is Kevin Durant.”

The Nets are at Kyrie’s mercy

Irving’s career hasn’t been one for selflessness. The mercurial guard demanded to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to escape LeBron James’ shadow. Then, as a number one option with the Boston Celtics, he went back on a promise to remain with the C’s by teaming up with Durant in Brooklyn. And now, after the Nets acquired Harden and catered to the whim of their superstar, Kyrie is MIA.

Naturally, given his history of selfishness, it’s no surprise Irving is refusing the vaccine. After all, it’s a vaccine created to protect others as well as the individual. Instead, his desperate cries for “freedom” are aiding and abetting misguided souls from fulfilling their civic duties and protecting those around them.

Durant left a championship-caliber team for Kyrie. Harden tanked his reputation in Houston to form a superteam with Kyrie. Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge lowered themselves to veteran ring-chasers for Kyrie. And Kyrie is paying them back by refusing to do the one thing necessary to reward their career and financial sacrifices.

As long as Irving continues his crusade against the truth, the Nets will fall short of their ultimate potential. But it’s highly doubtful he would even care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Over 423 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through November 1, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.”

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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