Basketball star Kyrie Irving has been suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, the team announced that the 29-year-old will not be allowed to participate in any games until he gets the shot.
Irving is one of several players who are refusing to be vaccinated, or adhere to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The move to suspend the player comes exactly one week before the team kicks off its regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Irving will not be allowed to practice, or play, even during away games when he would be ostensibly allowed to participate because those games would be played outside of New York.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” the team's statement read. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.
Irving, a seven-time all-star, is a key element of the Nets’ strategy to win the upcoming season. It is unclear how the team plans to proceed in his absence.
“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” the statement continued.
“Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
Under New York City restrictions, every player is required to provide proof of vaccination to access indoor gyms within city limits. If Irving refuses to be vaccinated, he will not be allowed to play in home games or practice at the Nets’ facilities.