Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets until he is eligible to become a full participant under New York City Covid-19 vaccine rules, his team has confirmed.
Irving is unable to play home matches ahead of the upcoming NBA season due to his vaccination status and Nets general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday that the All-Star point guard won’t play at all until the situation changes.
In a statement, the Nets said: “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.
“Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction.
“We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
New York City rules require proof of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to enter indoor public spaces and venues, which left Irving unable to play in his team’s 41 home matches at the Brooklyn Center, as well as the New York Knicks’ Madison Square Garden.
The Nets open their season against NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks on 19 October and Irving has yet to participate in any of the team’s pre-season games.
When asked about his vaccination status at the Nets’ pre-season media day, the 29-year-old Irving refused to answer and said it was a “private” subject.
A former NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers, seven-time All-Star Irving joined the Nets as a free agent along with Kevin Durant in 2019.
The team’s title aspirations were boosted by the arrival of James Harden last season but the Nets were defeated by the Bucks in the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference.
Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Monday that the team were preparing to be without Irving this season and added that they “trying to figure it out as they go”.
“We recognise he’s not playing in home games,” Nash said. “We are going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.
“I think right now we assume he’s not going to be available for home games, but anything can change. Who’s to say? The city ordinances could change. Anything could change.
“Right now we are just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go because information is coming in by like the half-day here. Things are shifting. No one’s been through this before, and we are just trying to figure it out as we go.”
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