By Barry Hirshfeld
Kyrie Irving: an athlete and a theoretician. Throughout his impressive career, Kyrie has consistently performed at the utmost level––accumulating one championship, seven all-star appearances, multiple All-NBA team selections and the Rookie of the Year Award. Safe to say the top point guard deserves the max contract he recently received at the end of the 2019-2020 season with the Brooklyn Nets, totalling 136, 490, 600 over four years. Teaming up with Kevin Durant and James Harden, he forms the potentially most talented superteam in NBA history, if the organization can conduct its players and win a championship.
Despite Kyrie’s consistent superstar performances, the media tends to shine a spotlight on his controversial beliefs and actions––ranging from his public statements concerning the Earth’s flat structure to his recent actions which caused him to miss a portion of last year’s COVID-ridden NBA season. The superstar proved his absurdity while attending a family party maskless rather than participating in the Nets vs. Nuggets game last season.
Consecutively, Kyrie put the Net’s championship potential in jeopardy for the second year in a row, by exchanging 80 percent of his 40-million dollar contract as collateral for choosing to remain unvaccinated and not play alongside the 2021-2022 Brooklyn Nets. Irving openly stated on Instagram live that he declines the Covid-19 vaccine to stand up for individuals who “are being mandated to do this and are losing their livelihood,” rather than for his own political or personal views. Forcibly losing viability to participate in home games and practices due to his vaccination status according to New York’s policies, Kyrie remains a liability heading into this season. The Nets choose to deny him the right to play in the games which he would be able to play in because his “choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and [they] will not permit any member of [their] team to participate with part-time availability.”
Standing up for people who lose their jobs due to vaccine mandates which contradict their personal beliefs, Kyrie’s motivation to remain unvaccinated remains viable and inspiring to many, coming from an individual who possesses such a public platform. Yet, placing the Net’s championship contention and his salary at risk, Kyrie’s inspiring actions may be mistaken for foolish, explaining his nomination for Turkey of the Year.