The star point guard is now playing with the Nets again – some of the time, anyway – and he’s been showing signs of brilliance as expected.
Fans hoped that his love of playing could have been enough to revise his opinion about getting the vaccines.
But even his competitive spirit, and a major injury to his most important teammate, hasn’t made him budge and Irving is staying put with his choice.
Is there any chance of changing his mind?
All of this speculation came to a head this week when it was revealed that Irving’s teammate, Kevin Durant, will be out for four-to-six weeks due to injury.
— Rob Greene (@RobGreeneNBA) January 16, 2022
This means that the Nets are losing arguably their biggest star.
With a fierce Eastern Conference and the season heating up, the loss of Durant couldn’t come at a worse time.
Durant stepping down means the rest of the team needs to step up.
James Harden and other players are ready to take on that task – as is Irving.
However, Irving cannot play games at home in Brooklyn, as his vaccine status prohibits him from suiting up in the Barclays Center.
If he really wants to help out his team during this stretch without Durant, he would have to get his vaccine so he can play in New York.
Speaking to ESPN after Brooklyn’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving made it clear that isn’t happening.
Irving had this to say about his vaccination:
“That’s what I think comes into a lot of this culture and basketball and sport and entertainment. You bring in teams and you bring in situations. Kev’s going to heal, Kev’s going to be OK, and we’re going to have to deal with that as his teammates. But in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision. And that’s just what it is.”
Irving continued, speaking with true enthusiasm and steadfast commitment to his stance:
“It’s not going to be swayed just because of one thing in this NBA life. That somehow it’s brought to my attention as being more important than what’s going on in the real world. It’s just not happening for me. Again, I respect everyone else’s decision, I’m not going to ever try to convince anyone of anything or any of that, I’m just standing rooted in what I believe in. And though we’re dealing with this right now with Kev, I just know that I’m protected by the organization, I’m protected by my teammates, I’m protected by all the doctors I’ve talked to. And I just stand rooted.”
Those are obviously the words of someone who is standing by his views and won’t be swayed, even at the worst of times.
One thing is very clear after listening to Kyrie speak postgame today: There is nothing that is going to make him change his mind regarding the vaccine. He’s made up his mind — he’s not going to take it.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 17, 2022
Fans hoping that Irving backtracks on his decision have one last shot: the playoffs.
The NBA postseason begins in just a couple of months and there is no doubt the Nets will be in them.
The Eastern Conference is tougher than it has been in years and it’s been a wild year, with the rise of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat among others.
In other words, it’s going to be an intense postseason and the Nets will need all the help they can get.
Perhaps seeing his team battle it out and struggle to get deep in the playoffs will be enough to convince Irving to change his mind and finally get his shots.
However, based on what we heard this week, that seems very unlikely.
The Nets just need to live with the fact that they won’t be seeing Irving in New York any time soon.