Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he’s not concerned about teammate Kyrie Irving’s availability for home games this season despite Irving reportedly not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I expect it not to be [an issue],” Durant told reporters during Monday’s Nets media day when asked about Irving’s vaccine status. “That’s on Kyrie and that’s his personal decision. What he does is not on us to speculate what may happen. But we trust in Kyrie and I expect us to have our whole team at some point.”
Earlier this month, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that because of widespread vaccine requirements in New York City and San Francisco, unvaccinated players will be barred from entering those arenas for games and team activities. This includes players representing those markets — the Nets, Knicks, and Warriors — who under these guidelines won’t be able to participate in home games unless they can show proof of vaccination.
This policy is already affecting Irving’s ability to participate in team activities — per reports, he was unable to take part in the team’s media day in person at Barclays Center Monday.
After the Nets’ official media day concluded, Irving conducted an Instagram Live version of media day in which he fielded questions from reporters. When asked about his vaccination status, Irving said he’d “like to keep that stuff private” and insisted “the last thing” he wanted to create was “more hoopla and more distractions.”
According to reporter Matt Sullivan of The Rolling Stone in an extensive article published over the weekend, sources point to there being 50 to 60 players around the NBA who have yet to receive a dose of a vaccine.
While Irving, who is a vice president on the NBA Players’ Association’s executive committee, is believed to be one of the leading player voices against vaccine mandates in the NBA, he’s far from the only notable name attempting to push back. Last week, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors had his request for vaccine exemption denied. Wiggins, who requested a religious exemption, will not be allowed to suit up for home games with Golden State until he is vaccinated.
While markets like New York City and San Fransisco have enforced vaccine requirements for large public events including professional sports, the NBA itself has not. Per the league’s COVID protocols (as outlined by The Associated Press), unvaccinated player will be tested daily on practice and travel days as well on game days — which could see multiple tests conducted. These daily tests will not be required for vaccinated players.
Earlier this off-season, the league announced that virtually all parties involved in games, including officials, coaching staffs, and anyone in close proximity to players — must be vaccinated.