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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Articles tagged: Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving has pathway to returning to Nets in January?

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Kyrie Irving remains away from the Brooklyn Nets, but that could possibly change once the calendar flips to 2022.

Speaking this week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams vowed to “revisit” the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates once he takes office on Jan. 1. The Democratic politician beat Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa in New York City’s mayoral election this week and will replace incumbent mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates,” said Adams, per the New York Post. “Now, I stated I did not want to Monday-morning-quarterback the mayor. This is his time to be the man, he has to make the decisions.

“I hope the mayor — and I am encouraging him to do that — sit[s] down with unions and come[s] to a resolution,” Adams added. “And if he doesn’t, if this is still going to January, I’m going to sit down with them and we’re going to get this resolved.”

The unvaccinated Irving is currently ineligible to play in Nets’ home games due to the local mandates. The team has decided not to accommodate the seven-time All-Star as a part-time player this season either. It has been a contentious saga, as pro-Irving protestors recently even converged on the Nets’ home arena.

Brooklyn is treading water right now at 4-3 in Irving’s absence. They have 30 more games to play in between now and Jan. 1, but perhaps this marks new hope that Irving can return in time for the second half of the season.


Photo: Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nets owner speaks on his conversations with Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Much has been made of the relationship between Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai. Now Tsai is speaking on the recent conversations that he has had with the absent Nets star.

Tsai told NetsDaily on Friday that he has had multiple conversations with Irving but has tried not to evangelize.

“I have all the patience in the world with Kyrie,” added Tsai. “He’s on the roster, just not on the court.”

Tsai then reiterated that he would welcome Irving back if he got vaccinated. He also said that while he respects the seven-time All-Star’s decision, he does not really understand it.

Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated continues to keep him away from the Nets. The team has gone just 2-3 in his absence this season and really seems to be lacking a certain explosiveness without Irving’s offensive punch.

There were recent rumors claiming that Tsai has been fed up with Irving for a while now. While he cannot be happy about Irving’s continued absence, these comments from Tsai do sound a bit more sympathetic.

Video: Pro-Kyrie Irving protestors converge on Barclays Center

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

The Brooklyn Nets held their home opener against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday but not without experiencing some unexpected commotion first.

Prior to the afternoon tip-off at Barclays Center, a large group of protestors gathered outside of the arena to protest New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who is ineligible to play in home games due to the mandates, became a rallying cry for the group. They could be heard chanting, “Let Kyrie play.”

You can see video of the chaotic scene outside of the arena here but beware of foul language.

The protestors then began jumping barricades and pushing toward the front entrance. Barbara Barker of Newsday shared video from inside the arena.

Arena personnel eventually got the situation under control, and the game was able to proceed as scheduled.

The last that we heard of the Irving situation was from the seven-time All-Star himself. He took to Instagram Live to address his decision to remain unvaccinated as well as the speculation over his future. But it looks like Irving still has plenty of New Yorkers who are sympathetic to his cause.

Photo: Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Look: Charles Barkley has amazing reaction to Kenny Smith defending Kyrie

Charles Barkley reaction face

Doc Rivers may be the NBA’s king of flabbergasted reactions. But Charles Barkley appears to be coming for his throne.

As the new NBA season tipped off on Tuesday, TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew gave their takes on the Kyrie Irving-Brooklyn Nets situation. Barkley’s co-host, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, defended Irving, saying that he understood the All-Star guard’s choice to remain unvaccinated as long Irving was willing to accept the consequences. The camera then panned to Barkley, who delivered a priceless reaction by staring blankly into the void as Smith spoke. Take a look:

Needless to say, Barkley was of the exact opposite opinion. After Smith was done, Barkley proceeded to skewer Irving, saying, “You don’t get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people.” He also said that Irving should not be getting paid $17 million this season to sit at home and blasted the recent comparisons of Irving to the late Muhammad Ali.

The Nets tipped off the season against the Milwaukee Bucks without Irving, losing by the lopsided final score of 127-104. The team has decided not to accommodate Irving, who is ineligible to play in home games, as a part-time player this season. That means that Brooklyn could be without Irving for the entire year unless he suddenly decides to get vaccinated.

The outspoken Barkley clearly does not agree with the way that Irving is handling his business here. This is also far from the first time that Barkley has gone in on the former No. 1 overall pick on national television.

ESPN’s Jay Williams received death wishes after defending Kyrie Irving

Jay Williams

Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith got into a heated debate this week over Kyrie Irving’s decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, and Williams says people have wished death upon him over the stance he took.

During Wednesday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith was critical of Irving for leaving the Brooklyn Nets hanging by choosing not to get vaccinated. Williams, who said he is pro-vaccine, defended Irving’s right to make a personal decision and do what he feels is right for him and his family. You can see the argument below:

Williams posted an emotional video on Instagram this week in which he revealed that people have told him he doesn’t deserve to live because of his take on Irving.

“You know the crazy s— people say to me on the internet when they disagree with my opinion? … ‘Go hit a pole. Go die again. Duke’s education…’ All this stuff,” Williams said. “Thank god I went through that experience, because I don’t need other people to justify how I think about myself.”

Williams, of course, was a star at Duke and taken with the second overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2002 NBA Draft. He suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle crash in 2003 that ultimately cost him his playing career.

Williams also doubled down on his defense of Irving.

“Kyrie Irving doesn’t owe you anything. He doesn’t owe you a response on your timeline. He doesn’t owe you answers that you feel like you need,” Williams said. “Everybody says, ‘Oh, the NBA season starts in five days.’ Who gives a damn.”

Here’s the full video from Williams:

Almost everyone has an opinion on the Irving situation. There has been speculation that Irving could retire, and the star point guard responded to that this week. Irving has given no indication that he will change his vaccine stance. If he does not, he likely won’t play at all this season.

Kyrie Irving’s ex-Cavs teammate comes out in support of him

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Kyrie Irving is getting some love from a prominent former teammate amid the recent firestorm that he has generated.

Ex-Cleveland Cavalier JR Smith tweeted a supportive message to Irving on Thursday. “Extremely proud of you bro!” Smith wrote. He also included a GIF with the message, “If we support one another, we rise together!”

Irving and Smith were teammates on the Cavs for two seasons from 2015 to 2017. They were the starting backcourt for Cleveland’s title team in 2016.

Irving’s decision to be unvaccinated, which for now will prevent him from playing for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021-22 season, has created significant division in recent weeks. The seven-time All-Star took to Instagram Live on Wednesday to address the situation for himself.

As for Smith, he has not always gotten along with Irving in the past. But he clearly believes that Irving is on the right side of the aisle here.

Photo: Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving responds to retirement talk

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Kyrie Irving opened up this week about his decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, which could result in him not playing at all during the 2021-22 season. That has led to speculation that he might retire, but the Brooklyn Nets star insists he is not going anywhere.

Irving said during an Instagram live session on Wednesday that he is not retiring. As he has done in the past, he criticized media outlets for speaking on his behalf.

The Nets announced this week that Irving will not be eligible to practice or play as long as he remains unvaccinated. New York City has a local vaccine mandate that would prevent Irving from playing in home games. He would, in theory, have been able to play in road games, but the Nets are not interested in a complicated arrangement like that.

Irving said he is not anti-vaccine but that he does not agree with people losing their jobs over vaccine mandates. His decision may have already cost him a massive amount of money, but it does not sound like he’s going to change his mind.

Photo: Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Kyrie Irving lost out on massive extension from Nets due to vaccine drama

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Kyrie Irving’s COVID-19 vaccine stance is apparently costing him a lot more than just what he stands to lose in salary for this coming season.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania spoke this week on “The Glue Guys” podcast and revealed that the Irving drama cost him a huge extension offer from the Brooklyn Nets.

“He was willing to sacrifice, at the end of the day, 16 million dollars in salary this upcoming year and 186 million dollars, as far as an extension, that he will not be offered now,” said Charania of Irving.

We already knew that Irving’s situation was complicating his extension talks with Brooklyn. But for Charania to now report that Irving is looking at about $200 million down the drain is a bombshell revelation. For reference, Irving has made roughly $158 million to this point of his pro career. A $186 million extension would also mark the fifth-biggest contract for a point guard today and the tenth-biggest for any NBA player.

We have seen some other stars decide to get vaccinated after considering the amount of money that they would lose. But it sure sounds like Irving is dug in and holding to Valhalla, no matter what it costs him financially.

Photo: Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden offers thoughts on Kyrie Irving situation

James Harden

The Brooklyn Nets are facing an uncertain future with Kyrie Irving away from the team, and the situation has likely been frustrating for his teammates. However, James Harden insists the goal remains unchanged.

Harden was asked about Irving’s COVID vaccine stance on Wednesday. He said he respects Irving’s beliefs but that the Nets have to worry about the players who are in camp.

With Irving, Harden and Kevin Durant all healthy and available, the Nets would easily be the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. But, once again, Irving has taken the focus off of basketball and no one knows if or when he will be eligible to play.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced this week that Irving will not be able to practice or play with the team until he is vaccinated. Irving would have been eligible to play in road games but not games in Brooklyn due to New York vaccine mandates. There’s already reason to believe Durant supported the team’s decision. The same may be true for Harden.

Kevin Durant supports Nets in ongoing Kyrie Irving drama?

Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets announced this week that they will not allow Kyrie Irving to be a part-time member of the team. Many have wondered how Irving’s close friend Kevin Durant feels about that decision, but it sounds like the two-time NBA Finals MVP supports it.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the decision to not allow Irving to practice or play in games until he is vaccinated was one that was made by Brooklyn’s brass. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Get Up!” Wednesday that Durant probably signed off on the plan.

“There was a path forward. It was a very difficult path, but when Kyrie was cleared to practice with the team, we could have seen a possible way that he could have maybe started to play in some road games,” Windhorst said. “Shutting that down and making it clear that you’re either with us or not with us, I think, had to be supported by Durant. That is a very important point, because (Irving) has no greater ally in this NBA than Kevin Durant.”

There’s still time for Irving to change his mind, but a recent tweet he sent seemed to indicate he is not going to. Durant is focused on winning another championship, so it is probably safe to assume that the Irving situation has been a source of frustration for him.

The Nets have dealt with Irving-related drama since they signed him. It sounds like that is taking a toll on ownership, and you have to wonder if Durant is in the same boat.