*Kyrie Irving said Wednesday he didn’t want to lose salary or a chance to compete for a championship with the Brooklyn Nets, but was doing “what’s best for me” by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
After the Brooklyn Nets decided Tuesday that Irving would not play with the team – because a New York mandate requires athletes on the city’s pro teams to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and he refuses to get one – he took to Instagram Live Wednesday night with his thoughts.
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
Irving would have been able to practice with the Nets and play in road games outside New York in states without such mandates. The Nets will pay him for those but he is giving up about half of his $35 million salary by missing the home games.
“So what? It’s not about the money,” Irving said. “It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money?”
Irving said he loved basketball, has no plans on retiring, supports those who both got the vaccine and those who will not, and expressed appreciation for doctors.
“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics,” Irving said. “It’s not any one thing.
“It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
Irving hasn’t spoken to reporters since the Nets’ media day on Sept. 27, when he appeared via Zoom and asked for privacy when questioned about his vaccination status.
Watch his entire IG Live response below: