Column: Irving should get the vaccine, but it is really his choice


Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Jun 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts after making a basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second quarter of game one in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory

Kendal Manns, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

The National Basketball Association is one of the premier sports leagues in America, and like everything else, it has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The league faces a new issue, unvaccinated players and vaccine mandates. One of the biggest names in this situation is Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving is against the COVID-19 vaccine and, at times, wearing a mask. Because of his stance, Irving finds himself in a tough spot. The state of New York mandated that people must have at least one vaccine shot to enter enclosed places such as movies, dining, and fitness areas. Based on the strict guidelines in New York,  Irving would not be able to play in any of the Nets’ home games or participate in any practices in their facilities. Irving would be missing all 41 home games in the regular season.

The NBA said players would be denied game checks if they do not play due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York and San Francisco, meaning Irving would lose out on roughly $400,000 a game. His team would also suffer from his absence, as they are title favorites with their “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. 

Irving’s stance was met with a lot of backlash from the media and players alike. One of the biggest names to protest Irving’s decision is NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was adamant about Irving and others getting vaccinated,  saying, “It sounded to me like they [unvaccinated players] have not made any attempt to inform themselves on what is going on…We are able to fight this war against COVID-19 using masks and vaccination. That’s how we fight it. So they have to get wise to that.”

As a basketball fan and an athlete myself, I want to see Irving play. He is an amazing player,  and I think he will be sorely missed in this upcoming season. More importantly, I want the league to be as healthy as possible. I think Kyrie should get the vaccine, but it is his decision at the end of the day.

I decided to get mine for my health and the health of my family and friends. With COVID-19 still plaguing the country, it is important to be as protected as possible. After having it myself and losing a family member because of it, I think it is important to keep other people in mind when deciding on getting the vaccine or not. I would not call Irving selfish at this moment, but I do think if he prolongs this and ends up costing his team games and a future championship, he will be.  

So much of the talk in the media right now is just about Irving’s potential risk to his teammates, but Irving has a family that he needs to think about as well. His five-year-old daughter and fiance are as at risk to get COVID-19 as anyone else. If he does not get the vaccine for his teammates, why not get it for them. I think with a situation like this, it is important to keep that perspective in mind. 

I think the closer and closer we get to the season, he may reconsider. One of the things the league has done is get professionals to talk to players who are unsure about the vaccine, and maybe that kind of conversation will help Irving. Another player that has been in the media for not getting the vaccine is Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has been criticized much like Irving, especially since he would be missing all of his team’s home games because of San Francisco’s mandate. He got his vaccine shot recently and is ready to go for the upcoming season. Hopefully Irving will follow suit.

The NBA season is fast approaching and Irving will have to make a decision. If he keeps this up, his team’s championship chances will be at risk, but more importantly, so will their health. For that reason, I think he should get the vaccine, but at the end of the day, it is his choice.