Why Kyrie Irving is Not Following the NBA Vaccine Mandate

Since the start of the pandemic, the NBA’s COVID-19 restrictions have produced a lasting effect on players and teams throughout the league. Recently, these restrictions have become a very controversial issue in the NBA, especially with Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving refusing to get vaccinated.

By Gavin Jakubek

Does the NBA have the authority to mandate the vaccination of its players? You’d think that a superstar-caliber player like Kyrie Irving would abide by new mandates, right? The new vaccine mandate has the potential to suspend superstars and potentially change the outcome of the NBA playoffs. 

A Look Back on Kyrie Irving’s History in the NBA

Kyrie Irving was drafted to the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 1st pick in the 2011 NBA draft. In his early years as a Cleveland Cavalier, he made a name for himself throughout the league, obtaining a ring in the process. However, in his later years as a Brooklyn Net, he would become very disputed with his decision-making, not only as a player but also as an influencer. During the pandemic, his controversial nature was very prevalent. At the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Kyrie Irving attended his sister’s party at a club, breaking NBA protocols. Moreover, during that same season, he would sit out many games on a “personal leave” that left many wondering when he’d return. 

Kyrie Irving’s Decision

This year for the upcoming 2021-22 season, it’s no shock that he’s involved in another debate. Kyrie Irving decided to not receive the COVID-19 vaccination, which will cause him to lose out on the majority of his season. He says that his decision is “about being true to what feels good for me.” Although many are in disgust with his decision, Irving has acknowledged the consequences that will follow in his actions. Frequently, many analysts opposing Irving’s decision argue that his resistance will cost him a staggering amount of money. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Irving could miss out on over $17 million by not getting the vaccine. Kyrie Irving states, “You really think I want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?”

The media looks at NBA players like Irving as statistics — but when athletes make controversial decisions, fans are curious to see the resolution of the situation.