Did Kyrie Irving really turn down $100 million from the Nets to stay unvaccinated?
The enigmatic point guard has never been short on interesting sound bites, but his latest - if true - would certainly be his most expensive.
While most of the attention was understandably given to Kevin Durant and his comments about his now infamous trade request saga, one interesting take away from the Nets media day on Monday were the comments made by his teammate.
Kyrie Irving turned down 9 figures for vaccine stance
According to his comments during the Brooklyn Nets media day on Monday, star point guard Kyrie Irving apparently rejected a multiyear contract extension in the realm of $100 million because it would have required him to receive the covid-19 vaccine. Indeed, Irving stated that the franchise had in fact given him an ultimatum in relation to his vaccination status and getting a deal over the line. Where Irving was concerned, the 7-time All-Star said he believed a deal would be done before camp started in 2021.
“I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision,” Irving said. “[Get this] contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you’re going to be in this league, whether you’re going to be on this team. So, I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision. ...I didn’t appreciate how me being unvaccinated came to be a stigma within my career that I don’t want to play, or that I’m willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless.”
The Brooklyn Nets have a different account of talks with Kyrie Irving
What’s interesting to note about Irving’s claims was the response to them given by Nets GM Sean Marks. The franchise’s manager disagreed off the bat with the player’s take on the situation and made clear the team’s side of things. “There’s no ultimatum being given here,” Marks said. “Again, it goes back to you want people who are reliable, people who are here, and accountable. All of us: staff, players, coaches, you name it. It’s not giving somebody an ultimatum to get a vaccine. That’s a completely personal choice. I stand by Kyrie. I think if he wants, he’s made that choice. That’s his prerogative completely.”
Regardless of which side you take, the fact remains that Irving ultimately played in just 29 games during the last season due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. With the former NBA champion voluntarily sidelined for the bulk of the Nets’ games, his was one of the first names called when a post mortem of the team’s disastrous season was performed. None the less, here we are with Irving in the final year of his four-year $136.4 million contract which was signed back in 2019. Incidentally, that’s also when his friend and teammate Kevin Durant also signed. As things stand, Irving is set to pocket $36 million in this, the final year of his deal. What happens after that is anybody’s guess.