The Brooklyn Nets will ban Kyrie Irving from the team until she is eligible to participate under New York’s COVID-19 vaccination guidelines, general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday.
The decision follows days of speculation about the future of the Nets star point guard, who refused to discuss publicly his vaccination status but belongs to a group of NBA players under investigation. The team’s statements have been vague on Irving’s status likely due to employers forbidden to directly share medical information – such as vaccination consumption – about individual employees, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect her individual right to choose,” the team statement read “Currently, the option restricts his or her ability to be a full-time team member, and we will not allow any member of our team to participate in gaining part-time availability.”
Under New York City ordinances, both the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden require all employees – including players – as well as most fans to show proof of vaccination to enter. The rule does not currently apply to visiting players, a loophole pushed by some state -elected officials to close.
While an undeveloped player would be eligible to participate in away games, the Nets closed that possibility on Tuesday, citing the “mandate that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of fellowship and sacrifice. “
Irving hasn’t gotten most of the team’s skills and all of the pre-season games so far. He showed up at the team’s outdoor practice at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday wearing a mask. The next day, Nets head coach Steve Nash identified that seven-hour all-star is likely to miss at least part of the season.
Irving’s disappearance would be among the highest-profile consequences of New York City’s vaccine guidelines, which have shown that inoculation rates have widely increased in mandatory groups, such as teachers at health care workers.
All other players on the Nets, as well full Knicks roster, allegedly vaccinated.
Irving signed a four-year, $ 141 million contract with the Nets in 2019, with the goal of taking the team to a championship. He allegedly insists lose up to $ 15 million now if he’s not playing.
The Nets open their season against the Milwaukee Bucks next Wednesday.