It won’t be a surprise if Kyrie Irving‘s attitude costs the Nets their best chance at a championship. To date, Nash has defended Irving in front of the press, but the former two-time MVP’s patience is tested every day while he supports the star guard’s decision to avoid the COVID-19 vaccine.
Whenever Brooklyn’s coach addresses media inquiries about Irving’s status, his body language screams he would rather be anywhere else than answering questions about a man who does not respect his instructor.
Teammates have not thrown him under the bus either despite Irving’s unacceptable actions. But GM Sean Marks drew a line in the sand with his statement Tuesday that Irving will not practice or play until he can be a full-time participant, per the Athletic.
Management’s ultimatum puts the ball in Irving’s hands to do the right thing. Still, his reluctance to do what everyone else on the team has done is a distraction and an indication that Irving is a walking contradiction.
Brooklyn’s lead guard is known for acts of generosity. He has given six-figure donations to food banks and personal protective gear to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe during the pandemic, where he is an honorary member, and for his support of women’s professional basketball. These initiatives paint the picture of a man who is not afraid to show empathy, but his anti-vaccination stance and the ramifications that come with it counter his good deeds.
The pandemic has claimed the lives of 4.5 million people worldwide, but Irving thinks taking the shot or even revealing he has is a personal matter. He even whined that his privacy should be respected. It would be nice if Irving could explain to everyone why all those dead people are a partisan issue beneath him. Unfortunately, it will probably never happen because when Irving is tested on anything, he goes off on a pseudo-intellectual rant that’s almost incomprehensible.
He’s the same guy who thought it was hilarious because the fans and media were curious why he said the earth was flat four years ago. He did not understand that as a public figure, unfortunately, people will listen to what he has to say just because he dribbles a basketball. Worse yet, some will think that a man who went to school on an athletic scholarship for a semester before going pro is a revolutionary thinker.
Thus far, the mercurial guard has missed the first three preseason games. The first in Los Angeles was a coaching decision. The second exhibition was in Brooklyn against Milwaukee, where he couldn’t play because of New York City ordinance. The third was in Philadelphia and he was not with the team. These games are relatively meaningless and count only for making sure the players aren’t fat and that teammates develop timing and chemistry.
The regular season is approaching on Oct. 19, and there is no sign that he will vaccinate. If that’s the game #11 wants to play, the Nets should fine him for every game he misses. Executive Director of the Players Association Michele Roberts told the New York Daily News the Players Union did not agree to dock pay for missed games for an athlete who is not vaccinated, but that it is the position of the league that it can.
The Nets should fine him anyway. If the Players Union has an issue with that, then both parties should settle it in court. If it gets there, Brooklyn’s conscience should be clear. Irving made it ugly.