Kyrie Irving Decries Vaccine Mandates in Instagram Video: 'Just Use Logic'

Kyrie Irving has decried the vaccine mandates that have led to him being sidelined by the Brooklyn Nets, saying he was "doing what's best for me" by not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Nets announced on Tuesday that Irving would not play with the team until he is eligible to become a "full participant" under a New York City mandate that requires athletes to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues, including the Barclays Center. "Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose," Nets General Manager Sean Marks said.

Speaking on Instagram Live on Wednesday, Irving said he didn't want to lose his chance to compete for a championship with the Nets, but would not bow to the pressure to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Kyrie Irving address his stance on not getting the vaccine on IG Live: “It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?”

— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 14, 2021

Irving insisted he was neither pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, adding: "Do what's best for you, but I am not an advocate for either side.

"I am 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. That's the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate."

During the Instagram Live, Irving repeatedly said he respected doctors, but also said he respected those choosing to remain unvaccinated. "People are losing their jobs to these mandates, people are having to make choices with their own lives which I respect," he said.

"And I don't want to sit here and play on people's emotions, either. Just use logic. You know, what would you do? You know, if you felt uncomfortable going into the season, when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn't have to be forced to get the vaccine.

"You know, this wasn't an issue before the season started. This wasn't something that I foresaw coming in where I prepared for it and I had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family. I came into the season thinking that I was just gonna be able to play ball, you know, be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way."

Irving also said he was aware of the financial ramifications of his decision to not get vaccinated. According to ESPN, he stands to lose over $17 million.

Here is what Kyrie Irving stands to lose financially:

$381,181 for every missed home game

💰2 preseason games: $762K
💰41 home games: $15.6M
💰2 games at NYK: $762K
💰Bonuses: $413K
💰Playoffs: TBD

Irving is also extension eligible: 4 years/$187M

— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) October 6, 2021

"So what? It's not about the money, baby," Irving said. "It's not always about the money. It's about choosing what's best for you. You think I really want to lose money? You think I want to give up on my dream to go after the championship?

"You think I want to give up my livelihood because of a mandate, because I don't have accommodations, because I am unvaccinated? Come on."

He added that his decision was not about the Nets, nor was it political.

"Once again, I'm going to repeat this," he said. "This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it's not about the NBA, it's not politics. It's not any one thing. It's just about the freedom of what I want to do."

Irving hasn't spoken publicly since September 27 when he spoke to reporters via Zoom because he wasn't able to join his teammates for media day due to New York City's mandate.

On Instagram Live, he also made it clear he was not going to be retiring.

"Nobody's gonna hijack my voice," he said. "Nobody's going to take the power away from me that I have for speaking on these things, you know, and don't believe that I'm retiring. Don't believe that, you know, I'm gonna give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don't believe any of that sh*t man."

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets cheers from the bench during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 3, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images