As the Nets held their first practice in Brooklyn Tuesday after holding training camp in San Diego last week, Kyrie Irving was absent. After practice, head coach Steve Nash said he had “no further update” on Irving’s status for home games and practices.
“We support him,” Nash said. “We are here for him. Things change. When there’s a resolution, we’re here for him.”
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Per New York City’s COVID-19 guidelines, players on both the Nets and Knicks will need to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to play in home games this season, or to practice in their team facilities. In Irving’s instance, though, he has not said he’s unvaccinated. If he’s unable to play in home games he risks losing roughly $381,000 per game this season.
When asked about Irving’s absence, Nash said he’s not too concerned about it.
“I’m not really worried about anything,” Nash said. “We’re just trying to work every day. We came in today and had a great practice and we’ll do the same tomorrow, and that’s kind of where I leave it.”
Last Monday during Media Day, Irving didn’t attend in person and instead held a virtual press conference with media where he refused to share his vaccination status or any information surrounding the vaccine. Irving is one of a handful of players across the league who either refused to share their vaccination status, or said they weren’t vaccinated for “personal reasons” as the NBA tries to get 100 percent of its players vaccinated.
The league is currently at 95 percent vaccination rate, and is making it difficult for players to remain unvaccinated before the season starts with specific health and safety protocols that will heavily restrict them this season. Those protocols include regular COVID-19 testing, social distancing from others and mandatory quarantine if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Earlier this week, Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins received his vaccine after trying everything in his power to not get one. He submitted a religious exemption to the league, which was denied, but after holding out for so long he finally got the shot and will now be able to play in all home games this season. The Nets are also hoping Irving will be available to play in home games this season, and from the sounds of Nash’s comments, it doesn’t appear that the team is too worried about Irving’s status.