The Brooklyn Nets lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 114-107, but they lost something much more important than a regular season basketball game on Saturday.
During Brooklyn’s 120-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, leading scorer Kevin Durant suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee and will miss at least 4-6 weeks as he rehab’s from the injury.
There’s optimism within Nets that will be a four-to-six week rehab and return for Kevin Durant, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/xKYtu0l4VL
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 16, 2022
It’s been a season filled with one roadblock after another for Brooklyn, hit with injuries and COVID-19. One of those roadblocks has been the availability of star point guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving did not play in a game during the 2021 season until January 5th, due to his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Irving will only be allowed to play in Brooklyn’s road games moving forward as he is unable to play at Barclays Center — home of the Nets — due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
Following the loss to Cleveland on Monday, Irving was asked by the New York Post whether Durant’s injury will have an impact on his vaccination status moving forward, as his availability will be more important than ever as Durant attempts to recover from his injury.
“I’m not bringing science into the basketball,” Irving said. “Everyone’s feeling what’s going on in the real world. I’m walking around as an unvaccinated person. I’ve already been separated into another group of community. I’m just saying to everybody, I’m human. I have decisions to make, I have a family to take care of.”
“There are things that are just as important to me as being great at the game of basketball or leaving a legacy,” he added.
Irving was then asked additional questions regarding his vaccination decision as “millions of basketball fans wanted to know,” to which Irving brought up those who have lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates.
“That’s what I’m saying. You’re bringing my vaccination status into a basketball game, and I live my life, the majority of the time, when I’m away from this,” Irving said. “So when I say I’m not getting vaccinated and I’m making a choice with my life, somehow it gets mixed into, ‘Well, what about the basketball?’ When it’s like, ‘No, bro. We live in a real world.’”
“This is great to be able to do this,” he continued. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, I love playing with my teammates, I love playing on the Nets. But I’ve already been away enough time to think about this, to process this, to be able to make my decision, stand strong, understand that people are going to agree and some people are going to disagree.”
“The circumstances that are at hand, I’m praying they get changed and we’re able to do things differently,” Irving added. “That’s not just for me; that’s for all those that are dealing with being unvaccinated and getting fired from work. … So though I feel your feeling and emotion asking that question, it feels a little disrespectful. I’m not just a basketball player, bro.”
In mid-October, Nets general manager Sean Marks announced that Irving would not be part of the organization “until he is eligible to be a full participant.” At the time, Marks would not allow Irving to play in just Brooklyn’s road games, which would have made him a “part-time player.” That thinking changed in the middle of December when the Nets were hit particularly hard by COVID-19, forcing Marks and the Nets to do an about face regarding Irving’s position on the team, allowing him to return to the team as a “part-time” player for Brooklyn’s remaining road games.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Daily Wire is fighting Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate in federal court. Join us in this fight by signing our petition to OSHA, telling them that you will not comply with this mandate.