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Kyrie Irving: ‘It’s just really about being true to what feels good for me’

Asked about his vaccination status given New York City’s mandate and even his availability for Brooklyn Nets home games, Kyrie Irving repeatedly said, “Please respect my privacy.”

That public silence – even as the Nets announced they’d hold him from road games and practice, too – led to an anonymously sourced report about Irving’s reasoning. Irving, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, is upset people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates. As one of Charania’s sources put it, “Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless.”

Irving on Instagram Live:

Putting me as a hero or painting me as a villain sort of say or going against the vaccine mandates, that wasn’t my intent at all.
Nobody is going to hijack my voice. Nobody is going to take the power away from me that I have for speaking on these things. And don’t believe that I’m retiring. Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don’t believe any of that s***. Really be aware of what’s being said before I even get a chance to be on the podium and speak for myself.
What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine? This wasn’t an issue before the season started. This wasn’t something that I foresaw coming where I prepared for it and I had a chance to strategize about what was going to be best for me and my family. I came into the season thinking that I was just going to be able to play ball.
It’s not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It’s just really about being true to what feels good for me. I’m still uncertain about a lot of things. And that’s OK. If I’m going to be demonized for having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, then that’s just what it is. That’s something I’ve got to sit in. I know the consequences of the decisions I make with my life.
To demonize one another and to judge and continue to point the finger and be like, “Yo, you should do this.” Think about what that puts a person – what type of position that puts a person in. You’re backing them up against the wall to make a decision out of fear, out of having anxiety or they just don’t know.

New York announced its vaccine mandate for entertainment centers/gyms 10 weeks ago. It was made clear the mandate would apply to Nets and Knicks players six weeks ago.

Vaccines were readily available long before either development.

Perhaps, Irving thought vaccination wouldn’t be required to play for Brooklyn until recently. He didn’t say who told him he’d get an exemption, why he thought he was entitled to one or when he realized he wouldn’t receive one.

But unaddressed in Irving’s self-indulgent, long-winded social-media video: Why did he choose not to get vaccinated even before New York’s mandate was announced?

Vaccines are generally safe. Vaccinated people are less likely to contract and spread coronavirus. If they have a rare breakthrough case, vaccinated people are less likely to have severe outcomes.

Irving – as he did on media day, when he had a podium to speak for himself – sounds open to getting vaccinated. His reasons for hesitancy should be addressed – not silenced. But he’s not publicly explaining those reasons, so it’s difficult for people to engage him on the issues.

Yet, Irving has become a face of the unvaccinated.


Putting this on me – why are you putting it on me?
I’m just a hooper, right? I’m just a person who’s being utilized as an example. For some odd reason, people love to have my name in the mix of just some B.S.”
I’m just thinking for all those that are dealing with similar things that I’m dealing with. You’ve got to put your livelihood on the line in order for a mandate that you don’t necessarily agree with all the way. Nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies. Nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies. You only get one of these. If you choose to get a vaccine, I support you. If you choose to be unvaccinated, I support you. Do what’s best for you. But that doesn’t mean going around, start judging people for what they’re doing with their lives.

Irving is getting singled out, because basketball fans want to know whether he’ll play games this season. That interest is why Irving makes so much money.

Or at least why he could make so much money.

Irving stands to lose significantly while out.


“Yo, you’re going to lose out on money, and you’re going to lose out on this.” So what. It’s not about the money, baby. It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I’ve been able to grow with, to learn with, to learn that it takes sacrifice in his space? Because we could be easily at home chilling with our families, but we’re choosing to go out there and perform. And even in that job, that’s a dream come true. I’ve been working on it since I was fourth grade. You think I want to give up my livelihood because of a mandate? Because I don’t have accommodations? Because I’m unvaccinated? C’mon. I’m not going to be used as a person in this agenda.
This is my life. I get to do whatever I want with this. This is one body that I get here. One God body that I get here. And you’re telling me what to do with my body?

Irving could get vaccinated AND advocate against mandates. That would not at all be inconsistent. Many people make choices for themselves without believing those choices should be required for everyone.

There are nuanced debates to be had.

Just not on Instagram Live talking to yourself without addressing key issues.