Analysis: Why Kyrie Irving is getting exactly what he deserves

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said in a statement. “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.”

Which is, exactly, what should happen. And shows that vaccine mandates work. (New York has a vaccine mandate for people entering gyms, which includes Barclays Center, where Irving and the Nets play.)

Let’s revisit how we got here.

At the Nets media day last month, Irving refused to disclose his vaccination status — saying he would “like to keep all that private.” Earlier this month, while still not disclosing his vaccine status, Irving tweeted this: “I am protected by God and so are my people. We stand together.”
In an attempt to further clarify his position, sources “with knowledge of Kyrie’s mindset” told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Irving is “not anti-vaccine and that his stance is that he is upset that people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates. … To him this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and peoples’ livelihoods.”

Which, um, what? Like, go read those sentences again. Literally makes zero sense.

Because Irving seemingly refuses to be vaccinated — and because of the New York City ban on unvaccinated people entering gyms — he was going to be banned from playing in any of the 41 home games the Nets play in Brooklyn as well as the two road games they play in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden.

Marks, on Tuesday, went the extra step to say that Irving would not play or practice with the team at all — unless and until he got vaccinated, noting again that Irving had made a “personal choice … that restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team.”

And that’s it right there.

Irving has the right to choose not to be vaccinated — despite the vaccines being overwhelmingly successful in preventing hospitalizations and death from Covid-19, and a fully vaccinated (or close to it) society being our only real chance to getting fully back to normal in this country.

But given what we know about Covid-19’s infectiousness and the serious threat unvaccinated people pose to themselves and others, the Nets — and the broader society — have the right to say that you simply can’t be a part of what they are doing. Because actions have consequences. And while you can choose to do whatever you like with your body, you also must then accept that your choice may well negatively affect other parts of your life.

If we’ve learned anything from this long and painful pandemic, it’s that we are all connected. When one person makes a bad choice, it isn’t just their bad choice. It’s a bad choice that, left alone, could lead to bad consequences for people who are trying to do the right thing.

That’s why the decision by Marks and the Nets is pitch-perfect. Irving made his choice. Now he has to live with the consequences.


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