Questions about Kyrie Irving’s immunization status do not go away. And the answers?
The questions don’t go away. As the Nets struggle and Kyrie Irving’s status remains unvaccinated and part-time, beat-writers and others are going to ask, repeatedly, if there is a change in her status, if her teammates speak and if the burden of having a role -the time player, no matter how good, will help or hinder the continuity.
ESPN’s Nick Friedell asked James Harden and Kevin Durant on Friday night if they had had conversations with Irving about his vaccine status while he and other reporters asked Steve Nash to adjust to the status Irving’s special, to be allowed to play (most) road games but not even allowed inside the Barclays Center.
Friedell, who was also the first batsman to ask Irving about the vaccination on Wednesday, didn’t get much from either of the “Big Three” members after the Nets’ fifth straight loss at the Barclays Center.
Harden, when asked about how Irving’s vaccine status affects the Nets, repeatedly replied, “He knows it,” but also said he had not discussed the vaccine with his fellow superstar guard. He denied that things were “strange” because of New York City regulations that keep Irving away from Brooklyn.
“It wasn’t strange, no,” Harden said. “Honestly, it felt good to find him. It was good. It was like an extra life we had. But we have to live with what we’re up against and it’s the home games that we have to find ways to [to win]. And even the road games – just because Ky is on the road with us doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for us too. So we have to get involved and find ways to win games… every time we get on the floor the teams attack us, they feel like they have something to prove and we have to know that. And we have to bring them that same mentality.
Durant gave a more detailed answer about Irving, but he, too, said he hadn’t told Irving about his immunization status. It either.
“I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play – play every game,” Durant said when Friedell asked about Irving’s refusal to get the shot. “But I’m not about to force someone to get the shot, like it’s not my thing. So can he play basketball? No, I’m not about to do that.
KD said he and Irving had “conversations”.
“We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be part of the team and conversations about being here full time, but it’s his time. Whatever decision he wants to make, he will make it. It’s up to us to be professionals no matter what and to do our job. All of us, from the owner to the person in charge of the equipment, so as soon as it is ready it will be ready.
Irving, of course, scored 22 points in Wednesday’s road win, helping the Nets turn things around late in the game. He won’t be able to play Sunday at home against the Spurs, but will be eligible to play Monday’s catch-up game against the Blazers in Portland and then Wednesday’s game against the Bulls in Chicago. Of the Nets’ remaining 45 games, Irving will be eligible to play in 21, not being licensed to play at Madison Square Garden or in Canada.
When Friedell asked Durant if Irving told him why he chose not to get the shot, Durant said he didn’t discuss it.
“I didn’t even ask for an explanation,” Durant said. “It’s not my place, I don’t think so. So I’m ready for anything, it’s my whole mentality. Whatever happens in this situation, I have to be myself, keep going out there and represent the way I represent. I support whatever my team needs me to do, wants to do.
Irving has offered several explanations, either directly or through an intermediary. He said he and his family are protected by God and that he opposes the very warrants that forced him out of court. There have also been reports, albeit indirect, that Irving is concerned about the long-term effects of vaccines, presumably the messenger RNA technology that Pfizer and Moderna are using.
KD also expressed his general exasperation over COVID. He himself tested positive several times, before and after receiving the vaccine.
“It’s a strange situation, who knows? I don’t understand most of these s —. COVID, this has been all crazy the past few years. So I just try to stay centered and focus on myself. When Kyrie is ready to make decisions for himself, he will, and I trust that.
Nash, who said earlier in the week that he also hasn’t spoken to Irving about his status, was asked about how the arrangement affects the squad, if they’ll stand up for them more. road games with the “Big Three” than home games with the “Big Two”.
“I hope it’s not like that,” Nash said. “I don’t know if our guys are really taking a break to think about whether we’re home or on the road, I think that might get their juice into the building on the road like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got Kyrie this evening.’ But I don’t think they’re sitting at home saying, “No fun at home without Kyrie,” “Fun on the road with Kyrie.” “
Durant echoed the comment.
“I don’t think so because we’ve played the majority of our games without him,” Durant said. “We are professionals. We are veterans. We are supposed to know how to adapt to certain bullshit. We’ve been playing without him all season, so a game shouldn’t put us off like that.
It’s not just the Nets’ struggles at home that will lead to questions. Bradley Beal, who had insisted not to get shot, relented last week when Washington invoked new regulations that would have put him in the same situation as Irving. Andrew Wiggins, facing the same choice in San Francisco, ultimately got the hang of it too. Of course, the number of NBA players who have been vaccinated is now 98%, including 70% boosted, both significantly higher than the general public.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was also asked about Irving’s status after the game, particularly how he would deal with a player on his team who didn’t want to get the jab.
“When it comes to basketball, I feel like I can talk to them,” Antetokounmpo said. “When it comes to a personal decision like that, it’s… I have to let them make their decision. They’re grown men. You know, and every situation is different. I can’t force it. someone to do something that they don’t feel comfortable doing. I can tell you why I did it. Why I felt comfortable doing it. To protect my family, to protect my mom and stuff, stay safe, and you just hope he gets that. But if he doesn’t wanna do it, I can’t keep pressuring him.
“I have to focus on myself and come every day and do my job because that’s what I get paid for. I don’t know what relationship they have, what kind of relationship they have. They’ve probably talked to him, but they can’t keep forcing him to do something he doesn’t feel comfortable with because it takes so much energy and takes energy out of basketball. This is why we are here.
So expect Irving, his teammates and coaches, and other stars to keep asking questions. This is also to be expected. The virus, especially the omicron variant, has taken the NBA down by sending hundreds, including Irving, into health and safety protocols. There is no greater story in the NBA.