Charles Barkley wistfully wondered aloud if the recent knee injury to Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant might change Kyrie Irving’s controversial decision to remain unvaccinated on TNT’s Monday night postgame show. When that hope-filled idea was shot down by Kenny Smith — and again by Irving — the Hall of Fame former player and highly opinionated TNT analyst summed up his disgust about the topic.
“I’m not talking about this dude anymore,” a frustrated Barkley said following the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day games. “I hope they lose, period. I hope they lose.”
Charles Barkley has strong opinions on Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving’s vaccine refusal
Charles Barkley seemed to take great delight in the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers whipping the Brooklyn Nets 114-107 on Monday night, especially when Auburn University product Isaac Okoro rammed in a dunk in the final seconds to seal the Cleveland win.
Then, after playfully discussing whether Cleveland should trade veteran forward Kevin Love before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline and the Cavs’ contender status, Barkley broached the topic of Irving’s controversial vaccination status. Because he refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Irving is ineligible to play games in Brooklyn and can only play games on the road.
In the middle of the highlights, Sir Charles did manage to sneak in this pointed dig at Irving: “Half man, half a season.”
A somewhat hopeful Barkley wondered if a knee sprain expected to shelve Kevin Durant for four to six weeks might make Irving reconsider his vaccination stance for the good of a Nets team that is on shaky ground. At 27-16, Brooklyn has fallen to third in the East after losing six of its last 10 games.
“I think he really has to consider getting the vaccine because Kevin’s out a month, minimum. They said four to six weeks, so if we’re realistic, it’s a month,” Barkley said. “If (Irving’s) only playing road games, they could (signals a veer off course sign).”
TNT’s Charles Barkley on the Nets without Kevin Durant: ‘They’re not a good team!’
After fellow analyst Kenny Smith informed Charles Barkley that the Nets are in a stretch of games during which they will play 11 of the 14 on the road, making Irving available for an extended period, Barkley revealed his true feelings about Brooklyn’s roster.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re playing home or on the road, they could lose, and they could be as deep as six, seven, or eight (seed) because they’re not going to win a lot of games without Kevin,” Barkley said. “They’re not a good team! All three of those guys have to do so much of the heavy lifting, but they’re not good at rebounding, not good defensively, and they don’t have a bench. They could lose a lot of those games with Kyrie and James Harden on the court.”
Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving reaffirms his decision to remain unvaccinated
Star point guard Kyrie Irving only recently returned after the Brooklyn Nets caved on their preseason demands that he either be available for all games or none at all.
Following Monday’s loss in Cleveland, Irving stressed that teammate Kevin Durant’s injury status had nothing to do with his unwillingness to remain unvaccinated. And this was the critical part of Irving’s postgame news conference, as reported by the Associated Press: “I’ve made my decision (about not getting vaccinated), and I’m standing on it.”
TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal then said that getting vaccinated is a selfless act that people do for the safety of others around them. The four-time champion also stressed that in NBA locker rooms, players make sacrifices all the time for the good of the team.
“The Big Three were put together to win a championship. Who knows what can happen next year or the year after that,” O’Neal said. “When you’ve got that chance — Kenny, you know — when you’ve got that (championship) slot, you’ve got to go for it.”
“I don’t care what (Irving) does, but in this (NBA) thing of ours, when you want to win for your fellas, and everybody else is (getting vaccinated), sacrifice plays an important role in trying to win a championship,” O’Neal added.
Openly agitated by the lingering Irving controversy, Barkley pointed out how the superstar point guard was letting down Durant after convincing him to leave Golden State’s dynasty to play in Brooklyn together. Eventually, Barkley summed up his disgusted feelings about the whole matter and wished for nothing but failure for Irving and the Nets.
“I just hope they lose, period,” Barkley said. “I just hope they lose.”