It is not Kyrie Irving’s fault that some people can’t control themselves, but he should speak out before it becomes a bigger problem for him.
On Sunday, violence erupted as a mob of anti-vaxxers stormed Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in support of the Brooklyn Nets star who is refusing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine — leaving the organization with “no choice” but to remove him from the active roster. Hundreds gathered outside the team’s home arena to chant “No vaccine mandate” and holler about “Nazi passports.” And highlighting the uh, diversity, among the crowd of anti-vaxxers, flags waved at the rally ranged from “Don’t Tread On Me” to those in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Where things went from dumb to dangerous can be seen in video captured on Twitter which shows security personnel struggling to contain the crowd trying to push their way through the front door of the Barclays Center.
A spokesperson for the Nets confirmed that the Barclays Center was briefly shuttered to clear protesters and ensure that only ticketed guests entered the building. The game started on time, the spokesperson noted. And the protestors’ efforts, while attention-grabbing, will not yield them their desired result. Earlier this month, Nets General Manager Sean Marks said that Irving wouldn’t play or practice until “he is eligible to be a full participant.”
Irving himself has not said much about his anti-vaxx stance outside of him “doing what’s best for me.”
“I know the consequences here, and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” he reportedly added. Irving has not said anything specifically about the protest.
At this stage of the plague, I personally don’t have it in me to argue with an anti-vaxxer. By now, so many of us vaccinated folks clearly are not walking around with a microchip poking out of our arms or with extra toes — or whatever other ridiculous conspiracy theory is currently dominant out there. If the unvaccinated haven’t figured out by now that this isn’t some nefarious ruse, there may no convincing them. That’s why I love vaccine mandates.
Vaccines aren’t actually about individual choice, of course. In reality, we live in a society where we have to comply with laws and rules because that’s what not living on the planet alone means. So if Irving wants to sit on his island, let him.
Kyrie Irving has every right to believe what he likely heard about the vaccine from a YouTube link and face the consequences. Yet, perhaps it’s time to think less about what’s best for him individually and maybe what’s better for everyone else.
I’m not usually the type to side with the management over a player, but in this case, I think perhaps Irving should revisit what his GM Sean Marks said: “Kyrie has made it clear he has a choice in this matter, and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides. We respect the fact that he has a choice and he can make his own right to choose. Right now, what’s best for the organization is the path we are taking, and I don’t want to speak for Kyrie. At the right time, I’m sure he will address his feelings and what the path may be for him.”
Through a lot of silence, Irving allowed conservative media figures to seize on his perceived message and spread misinformation. The end result is violence — and while that, again, is no fault of Irving, he nonetheless has seen his name and stance be used to justify it. Now many are calling on him to do what’s necessary: speak up — if not for the vaccine, at the very least to ask that people not get violent over a millionaire athlete electing to make a sacrifice he can afford to make.
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