Opinion: vaccination or retirement

Kyrie Irving’s decision affects us all


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Kyrie Irving has had an incredible career playing for the Cavs, Celtics and Nets

Joe Flynn, Sports Editor

The Nets had a super team, they had the best chances to make the NBA Finals, they had high hopes and then Kyrie Irving opened his mouth.

Irving has been very public with his decision to not get vaccinated, and his decision has been met with mixed responses.

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors said it was “his personal decision” when talking about his teammate’s decision not to get vaccinated.

Kevin Durant has played neutral. Instead of talking about Irving’s decision to not get vaccinated, he said that he’s been in contact with Irving.

On the other side, former player Jalen Rose has said that Irving is not the “victim,” and sports commentator Stephen A. Smith has repeatedly attacked Irving for being selfish.

Whether you agree with what Irving is doing or not, rules are rules, and if Irving doesn’t get vaccinated, he can’t play at home games for the Nets. Some people think Irving is selfish and others think he’s a hero.

I think Irving is Irving.

This is the same guy who questions if the Earth is flat, disappears in the middle of the season without giving a reason and demanded a trade from a team that made the NBA Finals three years in a row.

First, if you think Irving is selfish, I can make the argument that he’s done more charitable things than any other player in the NBA. He bought a house for the family of George Floyd, paid for college students’ tuition, donated 323,000 dollars to Feeding America and 250,000 meals across the New York Area. 

Second, if you think he’s a hero, I can argue that he’s far from heroic. He left Cleveland after beefing with LeBron, lied to the Boston Celtics by saying he wanted to retire with them and then left that offseason and disappeared multiple times last season, leaving his coach, Steve Nash, to come up with an excuse. Irving is no hero; he’s just misguided.

I like Kyrie Irving. The basketball gods blessed his handles, he’s one of the best shooters in the league, he’s clutch, and for whatever reason, his teammates love him.

Even after abandoning his Celtics teammates, they still dapped him up after every game in the playoffs last year. He was also elected by his fellow NBA players to serve as Vice President on the NBPA Executive Committee. He’s a guy everyone either loves or loves to hate, how can we blame him for being a fool?

Irving’s decision to not get vaccinated is not only stupid, but it’s also irresponsible. Players like Irving are why we’re still in this pandemic. He’s not only part of the problem: he is the problem.

He’s hanging his teammates out to dry and putting his coach in a terrible situation.

The best case scenario is he smartens up and gets vaccinated, allowing him to play all 82 games for the Nets. The worst case scenario, and most likely scenario, is that he doesn’t get vaccinated and can only play road games that don’t require him to be vaccinated.

The trajectory Irving is headed in is a bad one. The Nets have to be prepared for Irving to only be able to play 30-40 games this season. And what about the playoffs?

If Irving still isn’t vaccinated in April and the Nets are in the playoffs, he wouldn’t be able to play at home, which would be a crucial blow to Brooklyn. During last season’s playoffs, Irving left game four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with an injury, missing games five, six and seven. The Nets ended up losing that series in devastating fashion, and it’s universally agreed that if Irving had played the Nets would’ve wrapped the series up in six games. If Irving isn’t vaccinated come the playoffs, the Nets are in trouble.

In my opinion, it isn’t your personal decision when it comes to getting vaccinated because your decision affects other people. Irving’s decision to not get vaccinated affects his team and whoever he comes in contact with.

Unfortunately, some people find out too late after contracting COVID-19, and it’s a shame that people have to learn that COVID is the real deal after a family member or a close friend dies.

It still isn’t too late for Irving to come around, but if he doesn’t, the Nets are in trouble. If he does, not only will the Nets be favorites to win the NBA Finals, but he will also convince so many people that getting vaccinated is the right thing to do.

Irving is the type of player to retire over something like this. I hope he comes around because he’s one of the most talented players to ever play the game, but it’s not looking good for Irving.

If Irving loses public support, the only person who will still be in his corner will be himself.

What will Irving do? At this point only he can answer that question.