Kyrie Irving’s Decision

Javier Sarmiento, Co-Editor of Opinion

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving is unable to play games and participate in team activities due to the NYC vaccine mandate, which requires a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to be able to play in professional sports arenas and see certain parts of the city. Kyrie has said via Instagram Live that he is taking his time to process it and doing his research as well. During his IG live, he said “Don’t believe that I’m retiring, don’t believe that I would give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated.”  Irving went onto say, “It’s the reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on the team, I have to be vaccinated,” he said at another point in the video. “I chose to be unvaccinated. And that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice.”  

People have been critical of his stance; one commentator called him selfish and flat-out stupid. Sports talk shows have bashed him and his stance. Here is a video from First Take where Stephen A. Smith calls Kyrie selfish. Here is another video about Kyrie getting bashed by media members. People have been attacking him with full force as if he is not the only unvaccinated NBA Player in the league. Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards said he wasn’t vaccinated, and Johnathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic said he is not vaccinated, saying he has “natural immunity” after previously having COVID-19. Michael Porter Jr from the Denver Nuggets said he doesn’t feel comfortable taking the vaccine. He also revealed he’s contracted COVID-19 twice.  


My thoughts on this are simple. Since Kyrie is a superstar and a household name, everything he does is magnified to the maximum. However, just because he is a celebrity doesn’t mean you have to dehumanize him as a person. He is human just like the rest of us. Kyrie said himself to respect his privacy as he is going through this process. At the end of the day, this is his body, and you can’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. I stand with Kyrie 100%. Regardless of how you feel about vaccines and getting vaccinated, this is an individual decision. I just don’t like the amount of vitriol that is and continues to head his way.  


A couple of days ago, it was mentioned that Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers misspoke about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and is unvaccinated. I am a huge fan of Aaron Rodgers, but I’m not hearing the same type of backlash that Kyrie Irving experienced. People from all the sports talk shows, national media attacked him from all sides. They bashed him so badly that he had to go on IG Live to defend himself against the accusations that he was anti-vax, which he NEVER SAID. People took his IG Live out of context and continued to obliterate him. There is a clear double standard and that’s unfortunate. Nevertheless, Kyrie is his own man and can do what he wants. Basketball players and Fans are in his corner and will never waver. It remains to be seen if Kyrie will play this season due to the NYC Vaccine mandate, but there is a clear double standard about this topic regarding these two high-profile athletes.