NBA basketball star Kyrie Irving has been banned from his team, the Brooklyn Nets until he becomes vaccinated. The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate, but New York City does. In order for Irving to enter Barclay’s Center where the Nets play, he must have the shot. The prospect of a workaround was floated where Irving would miss all 41 home games and just play road games where the mandate does not exist. Ultimately, General Manager Sean Marks instead decided to sit Irving out of all games until his vax status is “resolved”.
Kyrie Irving has been adamant in his position against vaccination mandates. He also maintains his position that he is not “anti-vax”. Irving simply does not think that corporations or the government should force vaccinations onto people. The 10-year veteran NBA star is not alone in his beliefs. Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac expressed a similar viewpoint to Kyrie Irving recently. Isaac is not necessarily in jeopardy of being banned from his team because vaccine mandates are not permitted in Florida. Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins attempted to get a religious exemption for the vaccine mandate but was denied. Wiggins ultimately decided to become vaccinated because his team plays home games in San Francisco which, of course, has a vaccine mandate.
Andrew Wiggins was probably motivated to get the vaccine due to the threat of losing money. Wiggins is a good player, but not on the superstar level of Kyrie Irving. This means that if Wiggins loses out on a year of pay, it could be devastating. That isn’t to say that Kyrie Irving has no threat of financial loss here. Irving is currently on a 4-year, $136-million dollar contract. Most of that money is guaranteed. Under the rules of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the NBA may take 1/91.6th for each game missed for reasonable causes.
The vaccine mandate in New York City restricting Irving’s ability to play is considered a “reasonable cause” by the NBA. In terms of real money, this equates to a penalty of about $380,000 per game missed and up to $17 million for the entire year. Irving’s base salary for the 2021-2022 season is about $35 million. So he winds up making just as much money as he loses while not playing a game. Yes, Irving loses a lot of money in this scenario but his income is not totally taken away.
While other players have had to give in and get the shot to continue to support themselves and their families, the case of Kyrie Irving may linger on for a long time. If other big-name players step up to the plate and support Irving, then legal changes in cities across the nation more favorable to pro-choicers may not be too far away.
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