Kyrie Irving becomes the anti-vaccine face of the NBA

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, NBA champion and seven-time All Star, has become the face of a vocal minority of prominent NBA stars expressing their hesitation over the COVID-19 vaccine.

The All-Star goalie, who is vice president of the players union that blocked NBA efforts to impose a vaccination mandate, sparked a backlash from health pundits and basketball legends by refusing to stand up. get vaccinated.

It’s a position that could cost Irving Games money as New York City requires proof of vaccination to attend large indoor events. This rule would include players performing in front of fans at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn.

The NBA confirmed on Wednesday that salaries will be withheld for players who do not play because their unvaccinated status does not allow them to do so given local ordinances. It could cost Irving half of his $ 34 million salary just for Brooklyn home games.

It could also cost the Las Vegas favorite Nets to win this year’s NBA title, one title.

Yet Irving, an NBA iconoclast known for his irreverent views, showed no real signs of backing down.

“Obviously I can’t be there today,” Irving told reporters on Zoom on Nets media day, which he was unable to attend due to vaccination rules. from the city. “But that doesn’t mean that I put limits in the future on my ability to join the team.”

In an interview with CNN this week, the mayor of New York Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care – Brought to you by Altria – Merck’s COVID-19 pill halves risk of hospitalization New York sees increase in health worker vaccinations following tenure De Blasio promises ‘full investigation’ after Data Leak Appears to Connect Two NYPD Agents to Oath Keepers SUITE has confirmed that the Nets star will not get special treatment.

“We have a rule that has to be applied, whether you’re famous, whether you’re not famous, you know, whether you’re a man or a woman who works every day – get the shot because that’s what makes us all safe, ”he said. noted.

“I’m a Kyrie fan,” added de Blasio. “I would just like to call on him, to get vaccinated. Your fans want to see you. We all want you to come back. Your teammates want you to come back.

Besides home games, Irving could miss two games at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and one game in San Francisco, which also has an indoor vaccination mandate. He stands to lose about $ 400,000 for every game missed.

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai told the New York Post on Thursday that he hopes his star point guard will be vaccinated, noting that the Nets have “championship aspirations” this season.

“What is our goal this year? What is our goal this year? It’s very, very clear: winning a championship, ”Tsai said. “And the championship team has to have everyone shooting in the same direction.”

Ninety-five percent of NBA players are fully vaccinated – up from 90 percent at the end of last month – despite the league’s lack of tenure. That’s already a higher rate than MLB and NFL, which have had more time to get players vaccinated.

But the discussion around the next NBA season has centered on the relatively small group of players who have refused to be vaccinated. Many of them are stars, including Irving, Washington Wizards All-Star goaltender Bradley Beal, Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter. Jr.

Irving gained the most attention after liking an Instagram post from a user who baselessly claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is implanting microchips as part of a “Satan’s plan.” The conspiracy theory quickly spread to other dressing rooms in the league, according to a report from Rolling Stone.

In the same report, Irving’s aunt Tyki said he and other anti-vaccine players could voluntarily skip games to protest NBA rules. He also found that Irving refused to wear a mask while visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, of which he is a member, against community guidelines.

After the NBA last month unveiled COVID-19 protocols requiring unvaccinated players to wear face masks in certain settings, Irving tweeted, “My mask is off. Now take yours off. Fearless. ”He then tweeted that the encrypted message was a metaphor and had nothing to do with the league’s COVID-19 rules.

Several NBA legends have criticized Irving for his comments on COVID-19, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, two of the greatest players of all time.

“I took the vaccine because I’m not trying to make my mother sick, or my sister or my brother or the people around me… sometimes you have to think about the big picture and you have to think of more than yourself, “O’Neal told USA Today in an interview.

Widespread coverage of Irving’s position has alarmed public health advocates, who fear it will cause his fans to reject the vaccine.

“It is extremely disheartening to see people with massive platforms abdicate their duty to help educate the public on the best ways out of this crisis,” said Seema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative.

Public health experts believe that too few gamers actively oppose statements by the vocal minority of anti-vaccine gamers. Many on the pitch were equally disappointed when Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James confirmed he was vaccinated but said he would not advocate for others to get vaccinated, calling it a decision. personal.

“I can understand the allure of appearing apolitical in the midst of a polarized conversation, but we have lost the potential for many people to receive information from someone they admire and who has been vaccinated,” he said. Yasmin said.

Senator Ted cruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Democrats Still Disagree on Biden’s Agenda Echo Chamber Update: What You Missed If You Live In A Supreme Court Bubble to hear the dispute over funding Ted Cruz’s campaign MORE (R-Texas) weighed in on Twitter on Wednesday, saying he stood with Irving and other NBA vaccine refractors in opposing vaccination warrants.

The son of a former professional basketball player, Irving was born in Melbourne, Australia, and began his rise to basketball stardom in his home state of New Jersey. Irving dazzled fans with his playmaking magic on his way to seven All-Star nods and an upset victory over the highly regarded Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals in which he scored. pierced the green light at three points for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The controversy is nothing new for Irving, who was once criticized in 2017 for falsely insisting that the Earth is flat. A year later, Irving apologized to science professors who told him his viral conspiracy theory had spread to some of their students.

Irving, nicknamed “Uncle Drew,” also made headlines for missing several Nets games last season for personal reasons and for breaking the league’s COVID-19 protocols by attending a private indoor party.

Still, Irving has the respect of players in the league for his vocal activism for social justice.

Amid unrest across the country over the death of George Floyd last year, Irving has said he does not approve of restarting the NBA season and would rather spend his time pushing for reform. Irving bought a house for Floyd’s family and released a documentary with rapper Common about Breonna Taylor’s murder by police.

Irving also donated $ 1.5 million to WNBA players who wanted to spend the 2020 season interrupted by the pandemic and social unrest.

Whether a person decides to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or just connect with their family, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and its decisions, “Irving said in a statement at the time.

About Kimberly Alley

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