Irving went on Instagram Live to share his thoughts about his personal freedom and the media’s coverage of him.
“It’s reality that, you know, in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated,” he said. “I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice, and I am gonna just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates, and just be part of this whole thing.”
Irving also addressed the speculation that he would retire instead of subjecting himself to the New York City vaccine mandate.
“And no, I’m not retiring and no I’m not leaving this game like this,” Irving said. “There’s still so much more work to do and there’s still so many other youngins to inspire. Because I know they want to be better than me. And I can’t wait to play against all y’all on this stage.”
Additionally, Irving claimed that before there was a mask mandate, he was promised he would receive an exemption from the vaccine and he intended to play this season.
“And I don’t want to sit here and play on people’s emotions, either,” Irving said. “Just use logic. You know, what would you do? You know, if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine. You know, this wasn’t an issue before the season started. This wasn’t something that I foresaw coming in where I prepared for it and I had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family. I came into the season thinking that I was just gonna be able to play ball, you know, be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way.”
As EBONY previously reported, the Brooklyn Nets announced that Irving could not be a part of team activities until he received the COVID-19 vaccination. Sean Marks, general manager of the Nets, gave an update of Irving’s status with the team as he addressed the media on Tuesday.
“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.”
The NBA season commences on Oct. 19.
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