Protestors against the vaccine support Kyrie Irving at the Barclays Center

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Alexis Davis, theSCORE Lead Reporter

For many working Americans, the COVID-19 vaccine has erased a barrier between home and work life. Some states are requiring businesses to vaccinate all of their employees, one of them being New York. The Brooklyn Nets are following the state mandate. 

On the front of some sports headlines is not who won the game last night, but Kyrie Irving opting out of taking the vaccine. Oct. 10 2021, Irving took to Instagram Live to let basketball fans know he would not be getting the COVID-19 vaccine. During his live stream, he explained that he has to keep himself first and not the franchise.

“I am doing what’s best for me,” Irving said. “I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is. That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”

The Brooklyn Nets deemed Irving not eligible to play because the state of New York requires all professional athletes on one of the city’s teams to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues.

Although the New York mandate holds Irving back from playing home games and practicing with the team, he could travel with the team to away games and play according to the NBA. However, the Nets came with the decision to not have him be with the team until he gets at least one dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Due to his stance on the vaccine, Irving forfeited half of his $35 million salary that was awarded to him during pre-season negotiations.

“So what? It’s not about the money,” Irving continued to say on his live stream. “It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose all of this money?”

Irving has previously stated that he is not against the vaccine, he simply feels like the vaccine is not right for himself or his body. He explained on his live stream that it is not about the Nets, the NBA or any one thing in particular.

Some basketball fans and people around the world have mixed opinions about Irving holding his stance on the vaccine. On one side of the spectrum, people feel like it’s his body, so he has the right to say no. Others feel like he is doing the league a disservice.

“I do believe Kyrie has the right to hold out of receiving the vaccine,” Madison Murray, a senior journalism student said. “The NBA’s policy was created to protect the players and staff so, the situation is very unfortunate that they can’t reach an agreement.”

In recent weeks, many Brooklyn, NY residents took to the streets of New York to show their support for Irving. During these various protests, the Brooklyn Bridge was shut down. Protestors were chanting different slogans including, “My Body, My Choice.”

A little over a week after shutting down the bridge, protestors gathered to take up for Irving’s choice outside of the Barclays Center before their season opener. Majority of the protestors were seen holding signs that read “Stand with Kyrie.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave city employees until the end of Friday, Oct. 29 2021, to show proof of vaccination. For those that didn’t, they will be placed on unpaid leave until they can show their employer proof of vaccination. For newly vaccinated city employees, they will receive an extra $500 after their first shot.

“I think like most Americans, Kyrie is not making an informed decision about the vaccine,” Jordan Funderburk, a criminal justice senior said. I think all the data is there and since he is so high up, he should have access to more material in order to make a decision that leans towards getting the vaccine.”

With the NBA season underway, Nets fans and NBA viewers are interested to see how the Nets will perform without a key player and how his stance will impact the decisions of others to become vaccinated.