By Mike Murphy
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving may miss the NBA season over his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and as his team took the floor for its season opener Tuesday night, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and TNT analyst Charles Barkley had nearly identical messages for Irving: Get vaccinated, for others if not for yourself.
Last week, the Nets announced Irving would not play for the team as long as he remains unvaccinated, potentially forfeiting about $15 million .
Barkley, a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and outspoken TV personality, said he supports the Nets’ move, and suggested Irving’s inaction was selfish.
“You get vaccinated for your family first. You get vaccinated for your teammates second,” Barkley said on AT&T’s /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T -1.02% TNT. “That’s what bothers me about the whole thing. I think everybody should get vaccinated. I’m proud of the Nets for putting their foot down.”
Appearing on TNT’s pregame show before the Nets took on the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks , Silver agreed.
“I’d tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family. Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about,” Silver said.
NBA players are not required to be vaccinated, but those who have not been face regular testing and restrictions in interacting with teammates. As of Sept. 30, about 95% of NBA personnel were at least partially vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
Playing without their star guard, the Nets were blown out by the defending NBA champion Bucks, 127-104, in Milwaukee.
An unvaccinated but vaccine-eligible person would not be allowed into the Nets’ home arena, per a New York City public health rule, but would potentially be allowed to play road games, pursuant to standards in other NBA cities.