The Brooklyn Nets star went on Instagram Live late Wednesday night to confirm that he is unvaccinated, complain about feeling “demonized,” and wonder why the media is so focused on his vaccination stance. “Why are you putting it on me?” he said. “This is not part of what’s going on with conservations with scientists and physicians and doctors. I’m just a hooper.”
More from Rolling Stone
“I haven’t hurt anybody,” Irving added. “I haven’t committed a crime. I’m not out here acting dumb, stupid. I’m out here taking care of my family, my kids.”
Irving acknowledge that he has to be vaccinated in order to be on a team that plays in New York, but emphasized that he isn’t retiring and that he’s “ready to rock out with my teammates.”
“Don’t believe I’m giving up this game for a vaccine mandate,” he said.
Irving did not, however, announce any plans to get vaccinated in the future, and unfortunately he’s not going to be able to play basketball until he does. The Instagram Live appearance came the day after Nets GM Sean Marks announced that the team is benching Irving until he gets a shot.
New York City requires people to prove they have received at least one of them before they enter indoor gyms, including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This means Irving will not be able to play in Nets home games this season until he gets vaccinated. “We will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability,” Marks wrote.
Irving had previously missed the team’s media day because he could not comply with the city’s proof-of-vaccination requirement. He did answer questions over video, although when he was asked about his stance on vaccination, including whether he was prepared to miss the team’s home games, he asked only that reporters “respect my privacy.”
Irving has emerged as the league’s most prominent vaccine skeptic. He’s not the only one, though. Rolling Stone reported last month on the league’s struggles to contend with the issue, noting that 50 to 60 players had not received a dose of the vaccine as training camp began. The report also revealed that Irving had been following and liking posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims the vaccine is part of a scheme to connect Black people to a master computer. The misinformation campaign has spread across multiple locker rooms, according to Rolling Stone’s reporting.
Best of Rolling Stone