By Weston Blasi
Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving won’t play for the team during the 2021-22 season as long as he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19, the team announced.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice.”
Irving hasn’t been able to participate in Nets practices and preseason home games so far this year due to non-NBA standards for unvaccinated people in New York City.
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Irving was scheduled to make $35.2 million this season from the Nets, and the Nets say he will still be paid for the road games that he is technically eligible to play in.
If Irving does not get vaccinated for the entire NBA season, he would lose roughly $15 million from the Nets, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks .
Irving could also be in danger of losing money he earns from his Nike (NYS:NKE) sponsorship deal.
Brands like Nike and Adidas (ETR:XE:ADS) (OTC:ADDYY) routinely include reduction clauses in their contracts with athletes that protect them if the athlete misses significant playing time from or retires. Irving earns approximately $11 million annually from Nike, according to Forbes .
During an Instagram (NAS:FB) Live on Wednesday Irving addresses his situation with the Nets.
“The financial consequences, I know I do not want to even do that,” Irving said. “But it is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated. I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice.
He went on to say, “This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do.”