Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving made his 2022 home game debut at the Barclays Center after missing 74 regular season games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
Irving was allowed back in the arena after NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced an emergency Executive Order exempting professional athletes and performers from the city’s private employer vaccine mandates last week.
The star athlete spoke about his decision to abstain from getting vaccinated during a post-game conference, after a 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
“I made it very clear it was never just about me,” Irving remarked. “I think for my own legacy, that’s to be written by all those that I impact and all those that impact me, and it’s far bigger than just a basketball game. But when I’m in this locker room, I get a chance to perform with a bunch of guys that are selfless and are sacrificing just as much as I am. It makes it worthwhile.”
The $35 million a year NBA player was initially benched by his team for the season over refusing the jab, but was allowed to begin playing in away games after the Nets were crippled by COVID-19 in January.
“The point of this season for me was never to just take a stand,” Irving commented. “It was really to make sure that I’m standing on what I believe in, in freedom. Freedom.”
“I don’t think that’s a word that gets defined enough in our society. About the freedom to make choices with your life without someone telling you what the f**k to do. And whether that carries over into nuances of our society that politicians control, or government controls,” he continued.
Irving noted that he has been “discriminated against” for his choice to remain unvaccinated, and hasn’t forgotten about the being “continuously” slandered by the press during the season, but he’s “comfortable” being in his position.
“I’m standing for freedom. So, that’s in all facets of my life,” he concluded. “And there’s nobody that’s enslaving me, there’s nobody that’s telling me what I’m going to do with my life, and that’s just the way I am.”
Kyrie Irving on his legacy:
"Freedom. It's about the freedom to make choices with your life without someone telling you what the f–k to do. I have such a strong moral code of being honest." pic.twitter.com/U8AWJYDWQk
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) March 28, 2022