The Kyrie Irving drama is reaching its apex, and it’s not looking good for the Brooklyn Nets. With Irving reportedly unvaccinated and hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, there was a chance the All-Star guard would be unable to play in any and all home games. Now, head coach Steve Nash is confirming fans’ worst fear.
Steve Nash says Kyrie Irving won’t play at home
With just over a week until the regular season, Nash spoke to the media regarding Irving’s status with the team. And the news was more or less what many expected … and feared.
“I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” Nash said. We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where, and how much.”
Under New York City’s current health mandates, those who are not vaccinated from coronavirus cannot go to large indoor events, gyms, or fitness settings. That includes playing professional basketball at Barclays Center, the Nets’ home arena.
Although it’s not a huge surprise to see Nash planning for life without Kyrie, it’s a different tune from where the franchise was just a little bit ago. During Nets Media Day, general manager Sean Marks told reporters, “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth.”
Irving is standing firm
Kyrie is currently looking at missing half of his team’s games. He’s also facing a potential loss of millions of dollars if he continues to miss games. But the 29-year-old doesn’t appear to be changing his tune anytime soon.
“I appreciate your question, bro,” Irving said when asked about the vaccine during his remote interview on Media Day. “Honestly, I like to keep that stuff private, man. … So, you know, obviously I’m not able to be present there today. But that doesn’t mean that I’m putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team.”
While he is not speaking about his status directly, social media is revealing his potential feelings. Recently, Irving started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist claiming “secret societies” are implanting vaccines as “a plan of Satan.”
Chemistry issues will be an issue for the Brooklyn Nets
The good news in Brooklyn is that Irving could change his mind, get the vaccine, and be available to play at home. The bad news is no one knows when, or if, that would be happening.
One of the downfalls of the Nets last season was the lack of time each of their stars spent together on the court. Heading into the playoffs, Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden started five games together. Shockingly, Brooklyn only had one starting up that took the court for more than four games in the entire season, and it didn’t even include Durant.
Now, Nash will have to ultimately juggle lineups once again. One night, Irving will be in his natural spot at point guard, dictating the offense as necessary. But the next night, he’s not only unavailable to play, but not even with the team. It would be a surprise if Brooklyn’s chemistry didn’t suffer both on and off of the court the longer this drags out.
“At least he can practice, but we want him here for the whole thing,” Durant said. “We want him here for games, home games, practices, away games, shootarounds, all of it. So hopefully, we figure this thing out.”
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.