LOS ANGELES (AFP) – NBA star Kyrie Irving skipped the Brooklyn Nets media day on Monday because of Covid-19 protocols and declined to discuss his vaccination status, which could prevent him from playing home games this season.
”I would like to keep that stuff private,” Irving told reporters via a Zoom call.
”I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team,” he said.
”I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this.”
Irving joins a growing list of NBA players, which also includes Washington Wizards Bradley Beal, Orlando Magic Jonathan Isaac and Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who firmly said no, or have expressed great hesitancy, about getting the vaccine.
Irvine did not attend media day due to New York City’s new coronavirus protocols.
A new law passed in August requires pro athletes that play indoors to be vaccinated, meaning those who are not vaccinated could miss home games during the season.
On Monday, Irving repeatedly requested privacy when asked about the situation.
”I’m doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart,” he said.
The Nets’ first pre-season game at Barclays Center is on October 8.
The regular season begins October 19, when the Nets are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.
Rolling Stone magazine has reported that roughly 50 to 60 NBA players have yet to receive the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Last week, the NBA announced it declined an exemption request from Golden State’s Wiggins.
Wiggins, like Irving in New York City, faces regulations in San Francisco that would prevent him from practicing or playing in home Warriors games until he’s vaccinated.
It is anticipated that unvaccinated NBA players will face more testing and be asked to sit in separate areas of team meetings, in locker rooms and on the team plane.
Washington’s Beal spoke at the Wizards media day on Monday and cited ”personal reasons” for not getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
He hopes that his previous bout with Covid-19 will protect him. Beal contracted Covid-19 over the summer, preventing him from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.