A day after Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving finally explained his decision to not receive the vaccine, the man he convinced to join him in Brooklyn is still holding out hope that everything will work out.
"I can't be too mad at somebody making a decision for themselves," eleven-time All-Star Kevin Durant said on Thursday.
"Who am I to get upset at that? Just focus on what we got in this locker room," Durant said. "When [Irving] is ready, I am sure he will talk to [team owner] Joe [Tsai] and [general manager] Sean [Marks] and they'll figure it out and they'll tell us. Until then we are going to keep grinding."
Irving has become the talk of the NBA as he risks missing at least an entire season with his decision to remain unvaccinated.
Due to the market in which he plays — New York City – Irving is not allowed to play in games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Per New York City requirements, anyone over 12 years old won't be able to enter "certain covered premises" without having at least one dose of the vaccine. The requirement applies to Barclay's Center, where the Nets play their home games. There is an exception for visiting players.
On Tuesday, Nets general manager Sean Marks put out a statement saying that Irving will not be part of the organization "until he is eligible to be a full participant."
"Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant," Marks said in a statement.
"Definitely want Kyrie to be around," Durant told reporters on Thursday. "I wish none of this stuff would happen, but this is the situation that we are in. Kyrie made his decision on what he wanted to do and he chose to do what he wanted to do, and the team did the same."
Wednesday evening, Irving spoke for the first time since his media day appearance, and explained his stance in an Instagram live session, saying that "nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies."
"What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you have exemptions or that you didn't have to be forced to get the vaccine? This wasn't an issue before the season started," Irving said. "This wasn't something that I foresaw coming where I prepared for it and had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family."
Irving made it clear that he has no intention of retiring from the game of basketball, he simply does not support vaccine mandates that are causing people to lose their jobs.
For Brooklyn, the championship window is still open. The Nets lost in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks by mere inches.
With James Harden and Durant returning, and the offseason addition of Patty Mills, the Nets were the clear team to beat in the Eastern Conference with Irving in the lineup. Without Irving, things do get more interesting, but Durant is choosing to focus on what he needs to do for the Nets this season.
"It's on me to just focus on me, and do my job, and let those two parties handle that situation. I want our whole team together, and I want us to be at full strength, but sometimes it don't work out that way. But I am still positive that things will work out the best for both parties."
The NBA regular season begins October 19.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected] .
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