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Kyrie Irving Speaks Out About His COVID Vaccine Stance: 'Don't Believe That I'm Retiring... For A Vaccine Mandate Or Staying Unvaccinated'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Kyrie Irving has finally addressed his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets point guard appeared on Instagram Live for the first time since the team announced it would move on this season without him.

As CBS2's Chris Wragge reported, while Irving said a lot, he didn't necessarily provide many answers.

"Don't believe that I'm retiring. Don't believe that I'mma give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated," Irving said.

Irving can keep refusing to get the COVID vaccine. He just won't play for the Nets until he does.

The Nets decided Tuesday that Irving wouldn't be with the team because he isn't eligible to play in home games, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on one of the city's teams to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues.

"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 general manager Sean Marks said.


So while Irving will remain sidelined until vaccinated, he will still earn half of his $36 million a year salary.

On his Instagram Live, Irving insinuated he was being made an example of.

"I came into the season thinking that I was just going to be able to play ball. You know, be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way. You know, like, putting this on me... why're you putting it on me?" he said.

Irving only provided a glimpse into what he is thinking and did not give an indication of what his next move will be, only that he will announce his plans for a possible return to basketball when he is ready. In the meantime, his teammates are preparing to play without him.

"Kyrie believes in his beliefs, and he stands firm and strong on that. And for us, we respect it. You know, we all love Ky. But as far as us, we have a job to do," said James Harden.

"If things change, we'd love to have Kyrie back. In the meantime, we'll build. We're going to keep going with this group and move forward," said head coach Steve Nash.

"Pay attention to what's going on out in the real world. People are losing their jobs to these mandates. People are having to make choices with their own lives, which I respect. I don't want to sit here and play on peoples' emotions either, just use logic," Irving said.


The Nets have currently taken Irving's $187 million contract extension off the table, CBS2's Steve Overmyer reported.

"It's not about the money, baby. It's not always about the money. It's about choosing what's best for you," Irving said. "You think I really wanna lose money? You think I really wanna give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really wanna just give up my job? I'm not gonna be used a person in this agenda."

Irving did say that he is neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine, and understands both sides, but wants his choice to be respected.

"This is my life. I get to do whatever I want with this. This is one body that I get here, and you are telling me what to do with my body," Irving said.

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