Kevin Durant says he will not pressure Kyrie Irving to get vaccine
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks came into Brooklyn Friday night and effortlessly handed the Nets their fifth straight home loss. Brooklyn’s last three wins have come on the road.
The last of those road wins included Kyrie Irving, who returned and scored 22 points. Irving is a member of the Nets starting five on the road but cannot play in home games because he is not vaccinated and New York City has a vaccine mandate (which is not going away anytime soon).
A key reason Irving is back as a part-time player is pressure from Kevin Durant on management, but KD said he would not pressure Irving to get the jab.
“I told him how important he is and how much I want him to play every game, but like I said, I’m not about to force somebody to get a vaccine,” Durant said postgame Friday, via the Associated Press. “Like, that’s not my thing. So he can play basketball? I’m not about to do that.”
Around 97% of NBA players have been vaccinated and about two-thirds have gotten the booster. The league reached out with an education campaign to players explaining the vaccine is largely safe and effective at reducing the spread and severe symptoms from coronavirus. That did not change the fact players’ attitude across the league has been it’s a personal decision. While players such as Karl-Anthony Towns have very publicly been pro-vaccine, there has been limited peer pressure.
“It’s a weird situation. Like, who knows, you know what I’m saying?” Durant said. “I don’t understand most of this (stuff). COVID, all of this stuff has been crazy the last few years. So when Kyrie’s ready to make decisions for himself, he will, and I trust that.”
Irving has not ruled out getting vaccinated, saying, “however it looks later in the season, then we’ll address it then.” Being a part-time player in the regular season is one thing, only being there for three or four games of a playoff series is another. Durant, however, will not pressure Irving.
“We had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time,” Durant said. “Whatever decision he’s going to make, he’s going to make. It’s on us to come in and be professionals no matter what and do our job. That’s all of us from the owner down to the equipment manager. So whenever he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”