Kyrie Irving’s status in the league is no secret to anyone. Unless Irving changes his stance about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the Brooklyn Nets guard will miss all of the Nets’ home games this season. It’s a big blow to a team with legitimate championship aspirations this season. At least one segment in the Nets organization seems to have resigned to life without Kyrie in the Barclays Center. A recent tweet has circulated amongst Nets fans, showing the team’s promotional emails. Noticeably, Irving is missing from some of these emails. How curious… (via The Glue Guys)
At this point, the Nets — both management and players — say they want Irving back on the court, but respect his privacy claims. “If he’s not on the court, yeah [it would hurt us]. He’s one of our best players and one of our leaders,” Harden said after practice Thursday. “I want him to be on the team, of course,” Harden told reporters when asked if he hopes Irving would get vaccinated. “He’s been a huge part since I’ve been here, a huge part of our success. The success we did have last year, we were kind of finding a rhythm, that chemistry that we’ve built. I can remember last year that one road trip we had, me and Kyrie. He’s just a special talent that you don’t really see often, so of course I would want him to be on the team. He’s one of the reasons why I came here.”
Sean Marks told Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that while the issue may be roiling social media, he believes his team is doing just fine, thank you very much. “It’s definitely out in the Twitterverse more than it is in our locker room, without a doubt,” Marks said. “All I can tell you is what he’s told everybody: It’s a private matter, and he needs to talk to the right people and figure out in his close circle what he wants to do.” “It’ll work itself out, however it works,” Harden added, offering some optimism. “For us, it’s just keep chopping wood, keep treading water. Every single day we focus on things we can control, things that we can get better at. Our focus tomorrow is for us as a team, myself, Kevin and the entire organization is getting better tomorrow in the preseason game, and after that, every single day. Whatever happens, happens. But we’ve got to focus on what we can control.”
Of course on Friday, Irving’s private decisions becomes a public matter with his first missed game ... and first missed paycheck, $381,000. More and more questions will be raised about when Irving might get vaccinated or give a steadfast no to the vaccine. That hasn’t happened yet. Harden, who said he hasn’t spoken to his backcourt mate about his stand, was asked if he was disappointed. “It’s not disappointing at all. It’s not disappointing,” he said. “Kai believes in what he believes in. His family is behind him, we’re behind him. That’s all that it is.”
Shams Charania: Nets listed Kyrie Irving as out/ineligible for Friday’s preseason game vs. Bucks. It marks the first home game Irving will miss due to NYC’s vaccination requirement.
Alex Schiffer: James Harden said he wants Kyrie Irving to be a part of the team and adds he’s a huge part of what makes them scary. Hasn’t spoken to him on the vaccine, but would like to see the situation resolved. Irving has his support.
Tim Bontemps: The new COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Los Angeles has the same non-resident performer exemption in it that both New York City and San Francisco's did, meaning it will only apply, from an NBA standpoint, to the Lakers and Clippers. It was signed yesterday & goes into effect Nov. 29.
“I’m not going comment on Kyrie because that’s what Kyrie will be doing, making a decision,’’ Roberts told The Post. “But I will say you guys need to stop focusing on that 20-plus players who are not vaccinated. “Our numbers are 95, 96 percent [vaccinated]. That well beats the national average. What you need to do is ask what we can do to get the rest of the country to do what our players have done.”
Nets players who spoke with The Ringer seem unmoved by Irving’s vaccination status. Vaccine holdouts have caused an uproar in corners of the internet, but the Nets themselves don’t seem like a distracted group. Not yet, at least.
“It’s definitely out in the Twitterverse more than it is in our locker room, without a doubt,” Marks says. “All I can tell you is what he’s told everybody: It’s a private matter, and he needs to talk to the right people and figure out in his close circle what he wants to do.”
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA players were informed unvaccinated players who breach quarantine in Toronto face criminal offense. Unvaccinated players only able to leave hotel for team activities. Per Canada's Quarantine Act, violations could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750K in fines.
Rather than potentially lose half of his $31.5 million salary this season – the NBA said last week that non-vaccinated players not granted a medical or religious exemption would not be paid for missed games this year – Wiggins acquiesced and was vaccinated last week. Curry says there will be no repercussions going forward. “We understand that there was something in terms of how he saw things and how he believed that it took a while, it took ’till last week for him to get vaccinated,” Curry said. “But I think the biggest thing is, I wouldn’t have looked any differently in terms of him as a human being had he decided ‘this is not what I want to do; I’m going to miss games and all that.’ I would have been a little disappointed, but it’s not that I would see him any differently as a human being, and how I’ve come to know him, especially the last two years. Thankfully, he did his part. He got outside of his comfort zone, and asked the right questions, got the right information, understood the ramifications for what was at stake, and got it done and now he’ll be available. That’s one part of it. But he also is a true testament to the greater good, what we’re all talking about, and how everybody, we feel, should kind of handle the situation, when it comes to making that decision and getting it done. I’m excited he’s going to be around. I’m excited that he made that decision, and that’s he’s going to be available for us.”
Why hasn’t there been more of a concerted public relations effort on the part of some of the bigger stars to get out front and emphasize the need to be vaccinated? “It’s a great question, and it’s one that amplifies, puts a spotlight on the fact that we all come from somewhere, and we’re all kind of products of our environment, in terms of just how we see the world, and how we operate, and where you fit, certain conversations in terms of social justice, public health, things that involve just sports,” Curry said. “As players, we’ve been very vocal and outspoken on a lot of different things, especially in the last couple of years around racial justice and police brutality and things that are impacting our societies, our communities. And we understand COVID falls into that category, for sure. But it’s been one within the NBA circles that’s always been a little confusing, I would say, for the general collective to truly understand how it’s affecting each one of us, in real-time. And I think that started back in February, March of 2020, and it’s continued to go, because there’s a nuance to the data and the research.
“I feel like, and I can only speak for myself in this situation,” Curry said, “I talked about it at media day, especially around Wiggs’ situation. I was very direct and clear about I got it, I felt it was the right thing to do for everybody, knowing it was safe, knowing that I’d asked the right people. There was still a sense of urgency on Wiggs, and figuring out when he needed to be vaccinated by to be available for the season and all that. But the ball was in his court. It wasn’t a time to, like, put an ultimatum on him or anything like that respect. So it’s a hard conversation to have, and that’s only speaking for myself. Like you said, there’s a lot of other guys around the league with a lot of different microphones and platforms, and they’re going to handle it the way that they see fit. I enjoyed the process of, like you said, reaching out to Fauci; I had two conversations with him, and put those on full blast, so that they were hopefully seen by a lot of people, and sharing the right information. But it is a collective effort. Ninety-five percent is solid; it’s not 100, but we’re hoping to get to 100 pretty soon.
Marc Stein: It would appear that the Lakers and Clippers will soon face the same vaccine mandates that the Warriors, Knicks and Nets currently face. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.substack.com
Brian Lewis: Kevin Durant on Kyrie Irving's absence: "I'm envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team. Maybe I'm just naïve, but that's just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group, that if we keep doing it we can do something special.” #Nets #NBA
Alex Schiffer: Kevin Durant said he hasn't counseled Kyrie Irving with his current situation because he doesn't go out giving advice. It's a personal situation and he wants Irving to be a part of the group. Durant said Irving is a special player and "it's hard to duplicate what he does."
Alex Schiffer: Steve Nash said he hasn’t spoken to Kyrie Irving about workouts when he’s not with the team. Appears whatever Irving is doing away from the facility in on his own.
Michele Roberts is still hoping to get NBA players vaccinated at 100%, but she rejects any criticism about her clients’ hesitancy and is prepared to fight the league on withholding pay, the union president told the Daily News. “We’ll see about that,” Roberts said Wednesday. “They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked (pay). We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”
“Our position is no,” Roberts said of the league punishing a player for being unvaccinated. “The league’s position is that we don’t need your agreement because the CBA allows that anyway. “It’s debatable. We’ll see. I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but I’m going to say it’s a bridge we’ll cross, if and when we get there. Right now, we’ve agreed that a player breaks protocols, that he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp. But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”
The Nets believe they're still a championship contender with a roster constructed around Kevin Durant and James Harden and could ultimately have to make hard decisions on Irving's future should he remain unvaccinated and unable to play in Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden.
If Irving remains unvaccinated, the Nets could soon be faced with a decision on whether they'll allow Irving to come and go with the team in and out of New York -- or just keep him sidelined all together, sources said.
Alex Schiffer: Steve Nash said the Nets don't plan to move practice out of their Brooklyn facility, to say...Long Island or New Jersey, in order to get Irving able to join them. "This is our home, this is where we're going to practice."
During the podcast, Steele took aim at Disney’s requirement that most employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling it “sick,” and noting that she “didn’t want to” get a shot, though she did. She also indicated she was surprised that President Obama identifies as Black. Steele is also off the air because she recently tested positive for coronavirus, according to a person familiar with the matter. The anchor will not take part in ESPN’s espnW summit, which focuses on women in sports, and is expected to return to full duty sometime next week.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Brian Windhorst: The Brooklyn Nets remain unclear on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s ultimate intentions to get vaccinated and have made no decision on whether the organization will accommodate him as a part-time player this season. Story soon on ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: There had been previous optimism Irving would get vaccinated and fulfill local mandates, but that hope is waning and Irving’s continued resistance to vaccination has Nets preparing for possibility they’ll be without him for home practices and games for foreseeable future.
Bobby Marks: Here is what Kyrie Irving stands to lose financially: $381,181 for every missed home game 💰2 preseason games: $762K 💰41 home games: $15.6M 💰2 games at NYK: $762K 💰Bonuses: $413K 💰Playoffs: TBD Irving is also extension eligible: 4 years/$187M
Ohm Youngmisuk: Steve Nash says Kyrie Irving is not with the Nets today at practice in Brooklyn. He says there “is no further update” on Irving’s status to practice or play in New York under the city’s COVID protocols.
Shams Charania: Kyrie Irving did not attend Nets practice today, sources tell me and @Alex Schiffer. Irving is currently ineligible for home games and practices because of NYC’s vaccination requirement.
Golden State Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins on Monday explained his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that he felt "forced" to do so in order to continue his NBA career. "The only options were to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA," Wiggins said after the Warriors' preseason opener at the Portland Trail Blazers, his first public comments since getting the shot. "It was a tough decision. Hopefully, it works out in the long run and in 10 years I'm still healthy."
"They didn't make the rule," Wiggins said. "But I guess to do certain stuff, to work, I guess you don't own your body. That's what it comes down to. If you want to work in society today, then I guess they made the rules of what goes in your body and what you do. Hopefully, there's a lot of people out there that are stronger than me and keep fighting, stand for what they believe, and hopefully, it works out for them."
Wiggins also said he is the only member of his family who is vaccinated. "It's not really something we believe in as a family," he said. "They know that I had to. It came down to get the vaccination or don't play basketball. I'm 26. I have two kids. I want more kids. I'm trying to do something that will generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future kids, [create] generational wealth. So, I took the gamble, took the risk, and hopefully, I'm good."
Wiggins admitted that "time was not on my side" and explained why he felt compelled to get the shot when he did. "It feels good to play, but getting vaccinated, that's going to be something that stays in my mind for a long time," Wiggins said. "It's not something I wanted to do, but I was forced to."
In accordance with an NBA league-wide mandate, the Milwaukee Bucks will require all fans seated within 15 feet of the court at Fiserv Forum to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of the game. Locations within 15 feet of the court are all courtside seats located in rows AAA, BBB, CCC, DDD. These fans will also be required to wear face masks while in their seats. Fans can show their vaccine card, or a photo of the front and back of it, when entering Fiserv Forum to prove they’re fully vaccinated. Fans can also provide their negative COVID-19 test result by showing an electronic copy of the result, or a paper copy, upon entry into the arena.
Tim Bontemps: Reporting with @Bobby Marks: The NBA and the NBPA have agreed to a reduction in pay of 1/91.6th of a player's salary for each game an unvaccinated player misses in their home market because of local laws. For example, Kyrie Irving would lose roughly $381,000 per game.
Due to Irving’s refusal to comply with the New York City’s vaccine mandates, he’s not allowed to play at Barclays Center or even practice at HSS Training Center. He doesn’t have to be fully vaccinated but only requires a single shot. To this point, that hasn’t happened yet, although multiple sources with knowledge of the situation felt he may eventually relent and listen to teammates and others whose counsel he keeps. Still, with Irving facing a potential stretch of inactivity at home, Nash said he never seriously thought about giving him minutes Sunday versus the Lakers.
With the Nets returning home after Sunday’s preseason opening win at the Lakers, they resume practice Tuesday at HSS Training Center. They claim they have no idea whether Kyrie Irving will be practicing with them. “I don’t have an update on that,” head coach Steve Nash said. “So I really don’t know.”
Veteran Paul Millsap echoed that sentiment, saying Irving was a model professional during their weeklong California camp. “Come and do his job. Just comes in and works,” Millsap said. “He’s a worker. He comes in and works every single day. And that’s just that.”
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter said he was “very disappointed” with NBA superstar LeBron James for not actively encouraging people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Kanter spoke to CNN’s Pamela Brown on Saturday about his ongoing attempts to tackle vaccine hesitancy within the NBA. While the great majority of the NBA has been vaccinated by now, there is an ongoing conversation on how to handle the public health risks from the remaining 10 percent of unvaccinated players. Players like Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal have expressed varying levels of vaccine hesitancy or outright opposition to the mandate.
Since James has taken the position that getting vaccinated is a personal choice, Brown asked Kanter if James has “a responsibility” to promote the vaccine in public after declining to do so. Kanter’s answer: "You know, when I heard it, I was very disappointed and it is ridiculous. Obviously Lebron James, he’s one of the faces of the league. And he should be the first one to go out there and say, listen, everyone, I got the vaccine and I’m encouraging everyone, my community, everyone, basketball fans, non-basketball fans, all sport fans to go out, get this vaccine so we could save other lives. So when I heard that, I just can’t believe it. But I hope he could educate himself about this vaccination and encourage other people around him."
Since Irving has said that he wants his health details to remain private, Kanter acknowledged that receiving the vaccine is his choice, “but in this pandemic, our choice could actually hurt others, and we’re playing a team sport.” “Just think about all of those unvaccinated players going to go against the players who are vaccinated for 48 minutes,” Kanter said. “And it is not like we are playing ping pong. We are playing a contact sport. It is basketball. So 48 minutes they will be sweating and they will be on us the whole game. So I don’t know if the vaccinated players will be comfortable to go against unvaccinated players.”
Retired NBA player-turned-ESPN analyst Jay Williams is fed up with the narrative being flipped to focus on NBA players who are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, via Mediaite: “The media is a problem. The fear-mongering needs to stop! Every damn narrative I read over the past couple days… is ‘the unvaxxed vs the vaxxed. The minorities voice that shouldn’t be heard, the progressive NBA is not setting the right example!’ “This is problematic. Because the real narrative is over 90 percent of the damn NBA is vaccinated, but what do we do? We double and triple down on the unvaxxed and we turn it into the unvaccinated versus the vaccinated. Don’t do that, stop doing that!”
Green is vaccinated. He’ll be able to play for the Warriors in their home arena this season. But he says he supports Wiggins’ decision and his skepticism. “I think there’s something to be said for people’s concern about something that’s being pressed so hard. Like, why are you pressing this so hard? Like, so much. You’re just pressing and pressing and pressing. I think you have to honor people’s feelings and their beliefs. And I think that’s been lost when it comes to vaccinated and non-vaccinated.”
While disagreeing with him, I can empathize with Wiggins’ frustration. Not only could this interrupt his livelihood, but now he’s being castigated publicly for it. If this had stayed behind closed doors, maybe he caves and gets the vaccine eventually and this is never a thing. I can see how that would be infuriating. “I’ve been upset reading about Andrew Wiggins because it’s painting the wrong picture,” Andre Iguodala said. “When you do your homework the way it should be done, you understand there’s people who have an excuse and there’s people who have actual values. And he has values.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to NBA stars and others who are hesitant about vaccines during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt: DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Although I do respect people’s individual rights to make their decisions, there is also a part of it, Hugh, that is what I refer to as societal responsibility. And although there are individual choices that people can make, when you’re dealing with a deadly pandemic, you’ve got to also understand your responsibility to the society within which you live. So I wouldn’t want to be pointing a finger at this young man, but I would hope to be able to get him to understand that by allowing the virus to infect you, even though as an individual you say I’ll take my own chances, I don’t care, I’m young, I’m healthy, the likelihood that I’m going to get a serious disease is low, which is true. You can’t deny that. But what happens is that when you do get infected, it’s very well likely that you might pass that infection on to someone who would suffer very terribly from that virus. So you don’t want to be a vehicle for the propagation of an outbreak that unequivocally has devastated society. That’s what I would appeal to, his feeling of…
But Dr., he does more than that. Kyrie and some other NBA stars put stuff online that suggest that the vaccine is dangerous… AF: Yeah. HH: …that it could hurt you, that, so you need to speak to them directly. It’s not pleasant. What do you say to basketball stars? AF: Well, you know, you tell them that it’s untrue. I mean, the fact is these are people, they’re not stupid people. And yet, they are somehow or other, been convinced of things that are just not factual, Hugh. I mean, you look at the data. The data are overwhelming that these are highly effective and safe. And if you look at the track record of vaccines in general, what they’ve done for society and the benefit/risk ratio overwhelmingly weighs in favor of the benefit. And it’s just factual. I mean, it’s, sometimes it’s inexplicable that people can look at data and just say it doesn’t exist. I mean, it does.
Kellan Olson: Devin Booker said he is vaccinated and has been for a while with his family. On people getting vaccinated: “I feel like everybody should have their own right and their own decision on what they are doing with their body. And that was my decision to get vaccinated.”
Joe Tsai: The other thing I want people to understand is I take the vaccine, I’m protecting myself, but I’m also protecting people around me. I protect my family, I protect meeting with people, I protect everybody else. It’s part of social responsibility when you think about it to do the socially responsible thing. I know that there’s just so many scenarios where there’s a conflict between personal choice and what is good for the greater goal. And guess what? Our greater goal for the Nets is that we want to win a championship. That’s very, very clear. And I want to make sure that people don’t lose sight of that.
In an interview with Vincent Goodwill, Kareem was asked about LeBron James’ decision not to speak out publicly to advocate for the vaccine to his fellow players and the general public. The Lakers center responded in a roundabout way saying that LeBron’s actions, which in this scenario means getting himself and his family vaccinated, speak volumes. “He doesn’t speak as a spokesperson for getting vaccinated, but he is speaking as a parent and a father and someone who has to care for his family,” said the Lakers legend on LeBron. “In that context, he got vaccinated and got his family vaccinated. So there’s a lot of ways to skin this cat. But you have to get the message across.”
Marc Stein: Mavericks guard Trey Burke told the Dallas ledge @MikeDoocyFox4 that he is "standing on my own freedom of choice" and "respectively declining" the COVID-19 vaccine. Burke tells Doocy he is aware he will have to abide by all of the NBA's rules for non-vaccinated players.
Mike Doocy: I reached out to @TreyBurke today and asked him if he had anything else he’d like to say about his vaccine stance. This was his response.
95.7 The Game: Draymond Green on Andrew Wiggins/COVID-19 vaccine: “It’s not my place to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do... That’s his personal choice.”
“Until you actually get to know Kyrie, you’re going to get a lot of speculation. He’s going to say some stuff and certain things, but people don’t understand maybe what’s the context behind it or where he’s coming from. So, I always say a lot of times athletes in general are just in the spotlight where you just hear sound bites or you might see this or hear this, but people don’t really know the kid. And so, until you actually get to know Kyrie, I tell people all the time that if you don’t know someone, you probably shouldn’t speak on him.”
Players unions have opposed or avoided such mandates, keeping players free of them. But why? It’s a delicate subject. Former NBA Players Association executive director Charles Grantham told USA TODAY Sports that players union leadership is failing its members if it isn't pushing for vaccine mandates. “There’s no edge to be gained here,” Grantham said. “We’re concerned about the health and welfare of our players because they are our major assets in this business.”
Grantham also cited a recent quote by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates,” Jabbar said. “Conflict and controversy require strong leadership,” Grantham said. “So the question then is, `Are you willing to sacrifice 90% of your membership for 10%?”
Back in June, the WNBA announced that 99% of its players were fully vaccinated, and that all 12 of the league’s teams had met the threshold for being considered fully vaccinated. That’s better than any other professional sports league, and far better than the rate for the general public. “As a league,” Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes said Wednesday, “we’re really good at just doing what’s right.”
“It’s important for us, as elite professional athletes, to voice our opinions and voice where we are because we have such a big platform and a following. If one person hears you or listens to you, it can then do the domino effect and trickle down to our fanbase, or anyone else, to do their research and do what’s best for them and their families,” A’ja Wilson, the Las Vegas Aces forward and league MVP in 2020, said Thursday. “The NBA guys, their platform is enormous,” Wilson added. “If people hear and see them doing it, hopefully it’ll get them going.”
The WNBA has also partnered with the Black Women’s Health Imperative on “Take the Shot for the WIN,” a campaign to educate and raise awareness on the benefits of the vaccine in communities of color. “In Black and brown communities, women play a big role in the health decisions for their children, elder parents, their partners and themselves. As we have seen recently, the women of The W have pretty powerful voices and they can help mobilize our communities. It made sense, then, for our fully `vaxxed’ membership to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine education,” Terri Jackson, the union’s executive director, said when the partnership was announced.
As NBA teams go deep into training camp, the league will make a push before the season opener to get more players vaccinated. By Oct. 8, all teams must “hold at least a 15-minute education and awareness session (in which a team physician and the team GM must participate) with players and Tier 1 personnel,” the NBA said in its 61-page COVID-19 healthy and safety document for the 2021-22 season.
Brian Lewis: I asked #Nets owner Joe Tsai if he’s worried that Kyrie Irving will miss games due to vaccine hesitancy and local mandates: “Kyrie talks about it as a sort of personal choice issue, which I respect. But we all need to not forget that our goal, what is our goal this year…” #nba
Where do you stand on some players, such as Kyrie, Andrew Wiggins and Bradley Beal, declining to take the COVID-19 vaccine? Shaquille O’Neal: “In this line of work, sometimes you have to be selfless. The day I decided it wasn’t all about me and it’s about us is the day I started winning and really started dominating. I understand the issues and all that. But I took the vaccine because I’m not trying to get my mother sick, or my sister or my brother or people around me. I know people say, ‘The vaccine came too fast and is it healthy.’ To each his own. But sometimes you have to think about the overall picture and you have to think about more than yourself.
Shaquille O’Neal: "I wouldn’t want to be part of a team that couldn’t get together and couldn’t win a championship because you did this. So sometimes you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘It ain’t about me; it’s about other people.’ As men, you have to respect a guys’ decision. But if I was on the team and I was a guy that had a say on the team, I would say, ‘You have to get him out of here; he’s a distraction.’ They have a really good shot to win. With him there, they have an even better shot. But I don’t want to come to practice every day having to answer questions about him. I’ve been through that before, and it’s nerve-wracking. We want to come to play and win and focus on what we have to do. We don’t want to focus on him not doing this or not doing that. Or the NBA can say, ‘If you don’t want to follow the laws and the guidelines, we’ll forfeit all of your money.’ I think a lot of times when you have the guaranteed contract, guys think they can do whatever they want to do. I’m not bashing him. It’s his decision. But they’re trying to win there and need to get this done. If everyone else on the team could do it, he should think about that."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Last summer up to 26 million Americans marched in the streets in support of Black Lives Matter, specifically police brutality toward African Americans. George Floyd and Breanna Taylor put faces to a violent practice in law enforcement that has taken hundreds of innocent Black lives. America was outraged. They’d had enough. It was one of the proudest moments in American history. Which is why it is so disappointing to me that many of the same people who took to the streets a year ago to protest racism are okay with standing by and letting it take hundreds of Black lives every day. The principle is the same: systemic racism encouraged and allowed police to target Black people with excessive, sometimes fatal violence. And systemic racism is allowing COVID-19 to kill a disproportionate number of Blacks.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: According to the COVID Race Tracker, at least 73,462 Blacks have died in the U.S. from COVID-19. The CDC reports that Black people are 2.8 times more likely to become hospitalized by the virus and 2 times more likely to die from the disease compared to Whites and Non-Hispanics. To put it simply, if COVID was a racist cop choking out a Black person on the street, would you lift your voice in protest? Or would you say, “It’s his choice. He didn’t have to leave his home to go for a jog or grocery shop.”
Irving and his vaccination stance have been an elephant in the room for some time, but Steve Nash insisted he hadn’t spoken to his All-Star point guard about the prospect of being unable to play or even practice at home, with the Nets’ HSS Training Center also falling under the city guidelines. “No, I haven’t talked to him about it,” Nash said when asked by The Post. “I know he’s been great in camp, playing well and I’m excited to have him back on the floor. I’ve missed watching him play, coaching him. So, yeah, it’s just been great to have him back. So I really haven’t been involved with that side of things.”
With the Nets seen as one of the biggest favorites for the NBA championship, to see their run potentially derailed or hampered by something non-basketball related is definitely a shame. That reality is not lost on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who sent a plea to Kyrie Irving to get the Covid-19 vaccine. “I’m a fan of Kyrie. I would just appeal to him — get vaccinated,” de Blasio said on the Nets star. “Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back. Look, there are teams now that are 100% vaccinated. That’s a great example to everybody else.”
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez appeared to reference Irving during a session of parliament over the star’s purported backing of COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories. “I have been a basketball fan for many years, and I follow the NBA basketball league a lot,” Sanchez told the parliament. “Nowadays, there is a problem in the NBA itself. There are several players who have spoken out against vaccinations. “There is an NBA star who says he does not want to vaccinate because there is a conspiracy to vaccinate blacks and connect them with a computer that has a Satanic plan. This is verbatim.” To be clear, it’s not exactly verbatim and Irving has not said that.
Luka Doncic, who earlier this year said he contracted COVID-19 last offseason, was asked point-blank on Monday whether he is vaccinated. “I mean, yeah, but I want to keep it private,” he said. “Everybody should have their own choices, what they do.”
Mayor de Blasio made a public plea Wednesday for Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving to get his COVID shots as the city continues its push for more New Yorkers to get vaccinated. “I’m a fan of Kyrie. I would just appeal to him – get vaccinated,” he said. “Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back. Look, there are teams now that are 100% vaccinated. That’s a great example to everybody else.”
When asked if Irving was letting fans down, de Blasio declined to go there. “It’s not time to say that yet. We have weeks and weeks before the season begins,” he said. “I think his fans are going to say to him, ‘C’mon, join us, help us, let’s keep everyone safe — keep your own family safe, keep your teammates safe, keep your community safe.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) said that he “stands” with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and other NBA players who have shared their hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccine. “I stand with Kyrie Irving. I stand with Andrew Wiggins. I stand with Bradley Beal. I stand with Jonathan Isaac,” Cruz wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, along with the hashtag #YourBodyYourChoice.
Cruz also applauded Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James for his comments Tuesday, when the superstar shared that he decided to get vaccinated after researching it, but didn't intend to try to influence others to follow his lead. "I’ve never said this before: I agree with @KingJames,” Cruz said in the Twitter thread. “With his box-office power, he could be even more courageous—he could SOLVE the problem—by saying: “I stand w/ my fellow players. And I won’t play in any arena that bans another NBA player because they make a personal healthcare choice.”
Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. isn’t comfortable taking the vaccine for COVID-19 and is adamant there shouldn’t be a mandate for NBA players to take it. Porter, in an interview with The Denver Post, said his opinion is based on two separate bouts with COVID. “For me, I had COVID twice, I saw how my body reacted, and although the chances are slim, with the vaccine, there’s a chance you could have a bad reaction to it,” Porter said. “For me, I don’t feel comfortable”
Michael Porter Jr: “My stance on the mandate is it definitely shouldn’t be a mandate. It should be everyone’s decision. I see it both ways. If you want to get it because you feel more protected and you feel safer, and it’s protecting people around you, get it. That’s good for you. But if you feel like, ‘Oh, for me, I don’t feel safe getting it, then don’t get it.’”
Porter isn’t the only Nuggets player unvaccinated. He, along with any unvaccinated teammate, will be subject to onerous testing and other restrictions. The guidelines are outlined in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Tim MacMahon: Mavs reserve G Trey Burke confirms he is not vaccinated and says he’s “not trying to rush into a decision.” He says he wants to do more research. Asked what more research he feels he needs to do, Burke mentioned potential long-term effects. Mavs want 100% vaccination rate.
Mirjam Swanson: Ty Lue on COVID protocols: "Our guys are vaccinated, so we just try to abide by the rules... do what we do to play the game we love... "Our guys are fully vaccinated."
Ben Rohrbach: If the NBA applies the same standard to missed games for violation of local vaccine mandates as it does unpaid suspensions, Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins stand to lose almost $250K per game and nearly $15 million for the season.
According to the Census’ Household Survey, about 90 percent of adult Americans who earn $150,000 or more a year have been fully vaccinated. Given that every NBA player earns more than that, I think it’s safe to say that a 90 percent vaccination rate is the least we should expect. In other words, telling fans not to lose sight of the fact that 90 percent of the league is vaccinated is like when I tell my upset girlfriend not to lose sight of the fact that 90 percent of my piss made it into the toilet.
Ian Begley: In statement, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts notes that over 90% of players are fully vaccinated. “The real story is not why vaccination isn’t mandated in the NBA. The real story for proponents of vaccination is how can we emulate the Players in the NBA.” Full statement: pic.twitter.com/DS46qtvju4
May 17, 2022 | 4:40 pm EDT Update
David Hardisty: Chet Holmgren says he thinks he can be a “50-40-90 player” in the NBA. He believes his ability to create his own shot and score on his own will be on display.
Callie Caplan: Warriors’ Kevon Looney on Luka Doncic-James Harden comparisons after guarding Harden in past series: “Luka’s able to post up pretty much anybody when he gets his shoulder on you. … The biggest difference is the size. Luka’s really strong. That kind of surprised me this year.”
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive, daughter of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, is the new Assistant General Manager of the G League Stockton Kings, according to multiple sources. She is with the Kings in Chicago for the week’s NBA Draft Combine.
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive will assist all aspects of basketball ops, including G league player evaluations & development, strategy, among others. She’s been with the organization working in the Social Responsibility dept. & she’s excited to bring her passion for basketball to her new role.