Nets’ Kevin Durant isn’t pushing vaccine on Kyrie Irving

Nets star Kyrie Irving wasn’t at HSS Training Center on Wednesday, barred from playing or even practicing at home due to his refusal to comply with city vaccination mandates. And neither his coach nor his closest friends on the Nets had any clue when — or if — that would change, and weren’t about to pressure him into doing so.

“No, I don’t go out giving advice,” said teammate Kevin Durant. “This is his decision; that’s his choice. We all respected it. This is way bigger than hoops. So I don’t feel comfortable talking to him about stuff like this. But I’m just here to support and to come in here and do my job as one of the leaders on the team, and when things get figured out I’ve got trust and I hope that it’ll get figured out.”

It’s unclear if that trust is based on assurances from his friend. At least it appears Irving hasn’t dismissed the idea of receiving the vaccination out of hand, and Durant is still trying to maintain an optimistic attitude.

“I am personally, yeah; because I want him to be part of this group. He’s a special player and person and we want him to be part of this group. But a lot of stuff’s out of our control. We’ll let him figure that out for himself,” Durant said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to say I don’t want him on the team. He’s a huge part of what we do.”

Until Irving gets vaccinated (or the mandates end), he won’t be able to participate in any team activities at home. That’ll cost him $381,181 per missed game, according to ex-Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks, now with ESPN.

Kevin Durant (l) and Kyrie Irving
Corey Sipkin

Brooklyn’s preseason home opener is Friday versus Milwaukee. And when Durant was asked if Irving’s holdout could stretch into the regular-season, he didn’t rule it out.

“I don’t know,” Durant said. “I’m not really trying to get too involved in it, because it’s far bigger than myself and each one of us individually. This is one man’s personal decision on his well-being. So I’ve got to sit back, just observe and see what’s happening and keep coming in here and practice every day and going every rep. Everybody has that mentality.”

After Durant and Irving talked about joining forces, they came to Brooklyn together in June 2019. After last season’s tough second-round Game 7 loss to the Bucks — when Irving was hurt — now they have a chance to win.

But Irving’s absence not only forces Steve Nash to run practices at home without him, it very well could extend into home games if he doesn’t relent.

“Kyrie’s a big part of this team,” Bruce Brown said. “We want him to be back. We can’t wait for him to be back.”

While the Nets have ruled out moving practice out of the city to accommodate Irving, they also can’t have him practice with the G-League Long Island Nets. They don’t start camp until Oct. 25 or the season until Nov. 6.

If Irving can’t practice at home with his teammates, options are limited.

“I don’t know the answer to that but I imagine it would have to be his own regimen,” Nash said. “We haven’t discussed that yet. We’ll see. If that’s something that we discuss, I don’t think it’s something that I’d share with everyone what we’ve asked him to do. It’s not something we’ve discussed.”

There are those in the organization that fully expected Irving to be vaccinated by last Monday’s media day, much less opening day. And while there is some private consternation that it hasn’t happened yet, they’re still looking forward to having him back.

“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” Durant said. “Maybe I’m just naïve, maybe, but that’s just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group that if we keep building we can do something special.”


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