Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday that Kyrie Irving’s decision to not comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate left the organization with “no choice” but to send him away from the team until he’s able to fully participate.
“Ultimately, yes,” Marks said during a hastily scheduled virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon discussing the team’s decision. “He has a choice to make, and he made his choice.
“Again, my job here is to make what we deem as the best decision and best choices for the organization moving ahead as a whole. They’re not always ones that are going to be met with open arms and a thumbs-up. These are hard decisions. Just like I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Kyrie either to have to make that [decision] to not be around his teammates.”
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Nets released a statement from Marks stating that the team had decided Irving was not going to have “part-time availability” and that he would be welcomed back once he complied with New York City’s mandate.
The vaccine mandate, which went into effect last month, states that anyone entering an indoor gym — including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, the homes of the Nets and New York Knicks — must have had at least one COVID-19 shot.
As a result, Irving was unable to play in 43 regular-season games — 41 at Barclays Center, plus two at MSG — and another two preseason games in Brooklyn. Marks confirmed Irving would only lose money for those games, roughly $380,000 per game.
When asked if Irving’s fellow stars, Kevin Durant and James Harden, were consulted on this decision, Marks said that “everyone” in the organization was aware of what was going on, but that he and owner Joe Tsai were the ones who made it.
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