NBA superstar Kyrie Irving is set to lose $380,000 per home game he misses due to his continued reluctance to get vaccinated and there are now huge questions over his future with the Brooklyn Nets.
The All-Star guard is the highest profile basketball player who is still refusing to get jabbed, but that means he is now unable to train or play in New York due to the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
There had been a belief that Irving would eventually get vaccinated, with the Nets supporting and educating Irving on the decision, but according to ESPN those hopes are now waning.
While Irving remains unvaccinated, he will be unable to play in any home games or practices for the foreseeable future and will forfeit a large chunk of his salary.
The 29-year-old stands to lose $380,000 (£279k) for every game he misses, which is not restricted to just matches in New York; in San Francisco, anyone over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated to attend indoor events – and that includes NBA players.
Over the course of the season, Irving is therefore at risk of losing $15.5million (£11.4m) if he does not get double-jabbed.
The Nets play six home games in a row in the second week of the new season, meaning Irving would not be able to see his teammates for 11 days, while there is one stretch of games across November and December where the Nets are home for 20 out of 26 days.
Irving’s aunt, Tyki Irving, previously told Rolling Stone that he could feature ‘every third game’ and effectively become a part-time player, but ESPN report that the Nets are unlikely to be so accommodating.
Their patience is now being tested and the Nets’ hierarchy ‘may have to make hard decisions’ on the future of Irving if he does not get vaccinated – though, equally, his stance will make him harder to trade.
Irving has largely remained quiet on his decision not to get vaccinated, though has liked anti-vaxx conspiracy posts on social media, while he missed the Nets’ team media day and had to conduct an interview via Zoom instead.
Speaking at the end of last month, he said: ‘There’s just a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I’d love to just keep that private and handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan.
‘So obviously I’m not able to be present there today, but that doesn’t mean that I’m putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team.’
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