Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving won’t play in Friday’s preseason game because he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Professional athletes in New York are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to practice or play in games. The Nets have listed the guard ineligible to play in their home preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks, ESPN reported.
Although the Nets are prevented by law from revealing whether a person has been vaccinated, people around the league understand why Irving won’t play.
"Nets listed Kyrie Irving as out/ineligible for Friday’s preseason game vs. Bucks. It marks the first home game Irving will miss due to NYC’s vaccination requirement," The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted.
Irving being unvaccinated does not make him alone among NBA players, though other states do not demand the vaccine to play. LeBron James and other players have said they believe it's a personal choice to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.
Unless Irving is vaccinated, he would have to miss the Nets' 41 home games and their two road games against the New York Knicks.
NBA players who miss games due to being unvaccinated will not be paid.
"Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.
Irving practiced with the Nets last week in San Diego where they held training camp, but he hasn't been with the team since they returned home.
Nets players have expressed support for Irving.
"It's not disappointing at all. It's not disappointing," guard James Harden said, the New York Post reported. "Ky believes in what he believes in. His family is behind him, we’re behind him. That’s all that it is."
The Athletic reported Thursday that unvaccinated NBA players could face criminal charges if they breach quarantine while in Toronto. Canada's Quarantine Act stipulates a violation could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Unvaccinated players reportedly are only able to leave their hotel for team activities in Toronto, where teams travel to play the Raptors.
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