Brooklyn Nets Bench Kyrie Irving Until He Proves He’s Been Vaccinated

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • The Brooklyn Nets will bench Kyrie Irving until he proves his vaccination status.

    • Irving has not made his vaccination status public.

    • The NBA does not mandate vaccines, but the state of New York, where Irving plays, has a vaccine mandate.

  • Reflect On:
    • Are we choosing to fear more than live life during COVID?

    • Do some of us think COVID is significantly more dangerous than it is because of unbalanced information we are receiving?

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Kyrie Irving, one of the more vocal NBA stars speaking out against vaccine mandates, will now be benched by the Brooklyn Nets until he proves he has been vaccinated.

Since New York state has a strict vaccine mandate, it would be required that Irving was vaccinated to play home games. It was rumoured that Irving would only play road games as a result. But the Nets announced Tuesday that Irving will not play or practice with the team unless he is vaccinated against COVID-19.

Up until now, Irving has not made his vaccination status clear, stating that he wished to have his medical status kept private.

“Kyrie’s made it clear that he has a choice in this matter and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides,” […] “We respect the fact that he has a choice, he can make his own and right now what’s best for the organization is the path that we’re taking.”

– Nets GM Sean Marks

While teams are not allowed to reveal players medical information, when asked whether Kyrie was vaccinated Nets GM Sean Marks stated,

“If he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s probably pretty clear.”

Marks said the decision to bench Kyrie was made between himself and owner Joe Tsai.

It is not known what Kyrie will do, but the Nets did not comment on what their next move will be or whether they are considering trading Irving.

NBA players are not required to be vaccinated and can choose to be tested instead.

“The hope is that we have Kyrie back, we’ll welcome him back in open arms under a different set of circumstances and so we need to wait and see how that transpires. But in the meantime, we need to focus on the 16 players that are going to be on this roster moving forward with us.”

– Nets GM Sean Marks


On one hand someone may look at this story and think “wow, these overpaid athletes are so privileged, why not get vaccinated like the rest of us and do the right thing?” While on the other hand someone might feel “Irving is standing up for what is right. He has a lot of pressure on him and he’s holding his ground. Good for him.”

How do we arrive at these two very different scenarios? Often times having very different perspectives on something is seen in more philosophical discussions. Looking at religious views for example, there is no clear right answer based on data, or evidence, these are philosophical and belief oriented discussions. But with something like COVID, we have a ton of data and analysis we can look at to understand what risks are associated with being vaccinated or not.

The challenge I have often brought up throughout COVID is that society is not getting the same access to information from person to person. Someone might say this is my opinion, but we know this to be true. Those who watch mainstream media get one story, while those who engage with independent media get another. They even fight with one another about how different the stories are.

Further, we have seen scientists in the mainstream media with the same narrative all this time, yet a wider variety of more open and exploratory scientists in independent media. Those who are more open seem to be censored by Big Tech and ridiculed by their peers.

Facebook and YouTube have taken a hard stance on banning what they call “anti-vax content”. While I’m sure some of the content censored is false, there are also discussions between doctors and scientists making a good faith effort to understand what is going on being deleted. Topics like vaccine injury, the creation of variants, risk assessment, and long-term injury possibilities are being dragged into the “anti-vax” content eliminator. Not to mention the available treatments for COVID-19 that calls into question the necessity for vaccination. Should these things not be discussed?

Yes COVID can be dangerous for very specific people, those over 70 or those with multiple co-morbidities, these are the people we should be focusing on the most to help and protect. Kyrie Irving is 29 years old. Given that Moderna’s vaccine has been paused in some countries for people under 30 due to heart issues, we have to acknowledge that Kyrie is taking a risk in getting vaccinated as well.

We know from the Pfizer data that severe adverse events occurred in about 1.2% of people who were vaccinated during trials. This number is important because it was rigorously tallied as opposed to what we have in the general population where most cases of injury are going unreported. Should a healthy, young, performance athlete be forced to take a vaccine that could harm him?

Through all of this confusion and held back information, we are left unclear and divided as a society. Most think they know the basics around COVID-19, but likely cannot express what the hospitalization rate of those infected are, or what the absolute risk of infection or death from COVID is. Due to constant fear in mainstream media, people are dramatically overestimating these occurrences.

Then when they see decisions like this from Kyrie Irving, they can’t understand how he has arrived at his decision. The first step here is our culture getting on the same page about what’s happening with COVID. This means pulling out the politics, the arguments, and focusing on ALL the facts, not just the limited picture the mainstream rhetoric is willing to share.

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