Kyrie Irving, the mercurial Brooklyn Nets star whose stance on vaccines has turned into a headache for his team and the NBA, was declared ineligible to play in a preseason game on Friday. His absence strongly suggests what had seemed highly probable: that Irving has not been vaccinated.
Under New York state law, Irving must get his shots in order to practice with the team, and to play home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. He already missed a practice on Tuesday.
Irving has never outright said he is anti-vaccine, instead asking for “privacy” when reporters inquire about his status. He is part of a relatively small, but influential, vaccine-skeptical or vaccine-resistant cohort within the NBA.
The Nets have been holding out hope that Irving will still get his shots — fellow star Kevin Durant said on Wednesday that “I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team” — but it is unclear what will happen if he doesn’t. Irving could end up playing only road games, or might be benched altogether — either of which would be a major blow to the team’s championship dreams.