Kyrie Irving says “there’s no guilt that I feel” about being unvaccinated, missing games

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Kyrie Irving remains proudly unvaccinated and doesn’t plan to change that anytime soon, even as it leaves him a part-time player (road games only) due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.

After the Nets fell to the Heat Saturday for their 11th straight loss, Irving was asked if he feels any guilt over his choice to be unvaccinated.

“There’s no guilt that I feel. I’m the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances. But because I’m there, we have Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don’t feel guilt.”

For the record, the vaccine mandate in New York City was in place long before new Mayor Eric Adams was sworn in on Jan. 1, he has chosen to leave it in place.

Irving’s part-time status was reportedly among the frustrations James Harden had with the Nets, leading him to eventually force a trade to the 76ers. Harden thought he would be part of a three-headed monster in Brooklyn, but injuries to Kevin Durant (they are 2-11 since his knee sprain) and Irving’s choice put a carry-the-team burden on Harden many nights.

Irving — and recently Nets GM Sean Marks — continue to talk about the “circumstances” or “situation” changing, allowing Irving to eventually play in home games. As if there was nothing he could do to change it, no step within Irving’s control that would allow him to play home games. The “situation” is Irving has chosen not to get a proven safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus, and while that is his right he shouldn’t then complain about his situation. Irving made his choice, that choice comes with a consequence, ones that impact both him and the Nets.

Irving can play in 10 more Nets games before the end of the season, the team has a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way, plus one of the road games is in Toronto, and travel to Ontario, Canada, requires vaccination.

While the New York City indoor vaccine mandate may be dropped heading into the spring and summer — because the number of new cases and hospitalizations due to the virus fall to the point it makes scientific sense — there is no rush on the part of city government to get this done. The Nets can’t count on it, they likely will have a part-time player for the postseason.

Irving feels no guilt about that.