The NBA regular season tipped off Tuesday night, after an offseason filled with drama surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and the NBA being confronted with an unforeseen controversy.
Several players, including multiple superstars, took time out of their media day obligations to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine and why they decided against taking it.
It all came to a head last week when the Brooklyn Nets announced that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would not be allowed to practice or play with the team “until he is eligible to be a full participant.”
Irving — who had declined to openly state his vaccine status at the time of the Nets announcement — hopped on Instagram Live days later to explain that he was indeed unvaccinated and was doing so in opposition to vaccine mandates across the country.
On opening night of the NBA season, “Inside the NBA” on TNT discussed the Irving situation, and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley had some thoughts.
“You don’t get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people,” Barkley said. “I got vaccinated. I can’t wait to get the booster. You don’t get vaccinated just for yourself. Like Adam [Silver] said, you get vaccinated for your family, first,” he added. “You get vaccinated for your teammates second.”
Barkley applauded the Brooklyn Nets organization for their approach to the situation, benching Irving until he is vaccinated.
“I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down — for saying ‘no, we’re not going to deal with this half on, half off [situation],’” Barkley said. “The only thing that bugs me, he’s still going to make $17 million sitting at home.”
"First of all, you don't get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people."
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 20, 2021
Adam Silver — the commissioner of the NBA — also spoke on the Irving situation on “Inside the NBA” and had a message for the seven-time All-Star.
“I’d tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family,” Silver said. “Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”
Silver touted the vaccination as a “miracle,” saying that Irving will need to be vaccinated in order to be an “engaged member of society.”
“Science is firmly on the side of getting vaccinated. And this is in essence, a miracle vaccine … It’s already saved tens of millions of lives. I think, at some point, for Kyrie to be an engaged member of society — putting aside this league — he needs to get vaccinated,” Silver continued. “That’s the law in New York: if you want to play in an arena, if you want to visit an arena, if you want to participate in an activity in an arena, you need to be vaccinated, and that’s where he finds himself.”
“I'd tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family. Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”
Adam Silver on what he would say to convince Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated pic.twitter.com/CurKihqUVf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2021
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson also weighed in on the vaccine issue, telling CBS News that unvaccinated players are “letting down” their teammates.
“You have said to your teammates, ‘I’m gonna be there for you,’” Johnson said. “Well, you can’t be there if you don’t get vaccinated. You letting them down. And then that hurts our chances of winning a championship. I would never do that to my teammates. Never.”
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 email@example.com.
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