AceShowbiz - Kyrie Irving broke his silence amid public backlash over his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Brooklyn Nets star took to Instagram Live on Wednesday, October 13 to address the backlash as well as reports that he's retiring.
"It's reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on the team I have to be vaccinated," Irving said in the Live, which drew over 100,000 viewers, referring to Nets' decision to not allow him to play this season because of his status. "I chose to be unvaccinated. And that was my choice. And I would ask y'all just to respect that choice."
The seven-time All-Star went on to explain, "I'm staying grounded in what I believe in. It's not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It's about being true to what feels good for me. I'm still uncertain about a lot of things. And that's OK. If I'm going to be demonized about having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, then that's just what it is."
"What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine?" Irving continued. "This wasn't an issue before the season started. This wasn't something I foresaw coming where I prepared for it."
Of losing more than $15.5 million this season if he does not play any home games, Irving elaborated, "It's not about the money, baby. It's about choosing what's best for you. You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I've been able to grow with, to learn with?"
"You think I want to give up my livelihood because of a mandate? Because I don't have accommodations? Because I'm unvaccinated? Come on. I'm not going to be used as a person in this agenda," he continued, before stressing, "It's not about the Nets. It's not about the organization. It's not about the NBA. It's not politics. It's not any one thing that I'm pinpointing. It's just about the freedom of what I want to do."
When it came to rumors about him retiring, the athlete assured, "Don't believe that I'm retiring." He added, "Don't believe that I'm going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don't believe any of that s**t, man."