Sports

Nets say Kyrie won’t play, practice until eligible

Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets until he is eligible to become a full participant under local COVID-19 vaccination requirements, general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday.

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” Marks said in a statement.

“Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”

New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate requires a person to have proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to enter indoor gyms — including Barclays Center, the home of the Nets, and Madison Square Garden, the home of the Knicks.

The Nets are prevented by law from revealing whether Irving has been vaccinated, but the team’s statement is a strong indication he has not met New York’s vaccination requirement.

Addressing the media Tuesday, Marks said that while “everyone” was consulted, this decision came down to two people: him and owner Joe Tsai.

Marks also said the only salary Irving will forfeit will be for home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.

Irving wasn’t even eligible to practice with the Nets in New York until Friday, when the city told the team that its training facility was considered a private venue.

Irving then joined the team at an outdoor practice Saturday and worked out with the team Sunday, but he didn’t play in Brooklyn’s exhibition game at Philadelphia on Monday.

NBA players are not required to be vaccinated, but unvaccinated players face more testing and restrictions on their ability to be around their teammates. The league had said that players wouldn’t be paid for games they miss because they are ineligible to play.

Irving hasn’t said he isn’t vaccinated, asking for privacy when he spoke via Zoom during the team’s media day on Sept. 27. Teammates have said they are supportive of his personal choice.

On Tuesday, asked by the media if Irving wasn’t vaccinated, Marks said: “If he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s pretty clear.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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