Irving had so far refused to disclose his vaccination status publicly, but on Tuesday Nets general manager Sean Marks said he would not play or practice with the team until he met eligibility requirements.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, choice limits his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not allow any member of our team to participate participate in a part-time membership of the team.” availability,” said Marks.
“What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you have waivers or that you wouldn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine?” said Irving. “This wasn’t a problem before the season started. This wasn’t something I saw coming where I prepared for it and had a chance to come up with a strategy about what would be best for me and my family.”
There was doubt about Irving’s playing status
But the team issued its ultimatum on Tuesday, saying Irving would not be able to play games for the Nets.
“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and stay true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” said Marks. “Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals every member of our organization needs to move in the same direction,” he said.
“Do you think I really want to give up on my dream of going after a championship?” Irving said in the video on Wednesday. “Do you think I really just want to give up my job? Do you think I really just want to sit at home and not chase things with my teammates that I’ve been able to grow with, learn from?”
Irving said he has no plans to retire. “Don’t believe I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or stay unvaccinated,” he said.
The Nets open their 2021-22 season on Tuesday against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
CNN’s Jill Martin, Jacob Lev, Jack Bantock and Ben Church contributed to this report.