Brooklyn Nets say Kyrie Irving won't play, practice until eligible under local COVID-19 vaccination mandate

After the Nets announced that Kyrie Irving is no longer eligible for practice and play, Stephen A. Smith didn't hesitate to criticize Kyrie Irving. (2:31).
General manager Sean Marks stated Tuesday that Kyrie Irving won't play or practice with Brooklyn Nets until he can become a full participant in the COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

"Kyrie made his own decision, and we respect that. The choice he made currently limits his ability to serve as a full-time team member. We will not allow any team member to take part in part-time availability. Marks stated in a statement that it was crucial that we maintain our team chemistry and adhere to our long-standing values of sacrifice and togetherness.

"Our championship goals have not changed. Each member of our organization must work in the same direction to reach these goals. We are thrilled for the season's start and look forward to a campaign that makes Brooklyn proud.

New York City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate requires that anyone entering indoor gyms must have proof of at minimum one COVID-19 shot. This includes Madison Square Garden, home to the Knicks, and Barclays Center.

Although the law prohibits the Nets from disclosing Irving's vaccination status, Irving's statement by the team is strong evidence that he did not meet New York's requirements.

Tuesday's media conference was addressed by Marks, who stated that although "everyone" was consulted on Tuesday, the decision came down to Joe Tsai and him.

"We had everything on board. We looked at all of it. It's a difficult decision to make. We are trying to find people who will be able to fully participate in the event. That is what it comes down to. Marks stated that we are not looking for partners who will be only half-time.

"I think it's unfair to not only the staff, ownership, and fans but also to Kyrie when you put somebody out there who might not get the right build-ups or ramp-ups to look as good as they should under different circumstances. This is why the decision was made."

Marks stated that Irving's only salary will be forfeited for home games because of New York City’s vaccine mandate.

Irving was not eligible to practice in New York with the Nets until Friday when the city informed the team that the training facility was considered private.

Irving joined the team for an outdoor practice on Saturday, and he worked out with them Sunday. However, he did not play in Brooklyn's exhibition match at Philadelphia on Monday.

NBA players do not have to be vaccinated. However, unvaccinated players will be subject to more testing and restrictions that may limit their ability to play with their teammates. According to the league, players won't get paid for games they don't play because they aren’t eligible.

Irving has not said that he's not vaccinated. He asked for privacy via Zoom on September 27th. His teammates support his personal decision.

Marks replied to media questions Tuesday asking if Irving was vaccinated. That's quite clear, I think.

This report was contributed by The Associated Press.

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