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NBA’s Kyrie Irving refers himself as a ‘martyr’ discussing COVID-19 vaccine holdout

Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving said during a podcast released Wednesday that he lived the “life of a martyr” when describing his early-season holdout due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which resulted in him not being allowed to play in NBA games. 

During an appearance on the podcast of his teammate, star forward Kevin Durant, Irving told host Eddie Gonzalez that he was wondering if the Nets would look to trade him away due to his stance, adding he kept a positive approach during his holdout. 

“There was … there was nothing to lose,” he said on the “The ETCs with Kevin Durant” podcast. “I was wondering at home, what my future was going to look like, you know whether I was going to be traded, whether I was going to be released, whether I was going to get the opportunity to be on another team,” Irving told Gonzalez. “How I was going to spin this for myself. In a positive way, you know, so I kept affirming to myself, things are gonna change.” 

Irving, who mentioned he is still rehabilitating from an ankle injury he sustained last season, also told Gonzalez that he wasn’t expecting such a strict response to his vaccine refusal, adding that he let his teammates down in the process, but also referring to himself as a “martyr” 

The Nets, who had high championship aspirations before the season started, were swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics last month. 

“I was not expecting, you know, a mandate to be brought down in a way that it wasn’t gonna allow me to play at all like, you know, I had the opportunity to play away games still, but there was no plan in place,” Irving told Gonzalez. “There was no vision of like, how I was going to work for our team and I think that really impacted not just me but a lot of people, so just had to sit in that hot seat for a little bit and deal with it, man. Life of the martyr, bro.”

Irving was the face of the resistance to COVID-19 vaccines within the NBA last year, sharing misinformation to explain his hesitancy. Irving, 30, returned to play in January after sitting out for the first few months of the season, and then appearing only in road games until New York lifted its coronavirus rules for indoor events in March.

Tags Brooklyn Nets Brooklyn Nets COVID-19 pandemic COVID-19 pandemic Eddie Gonzalez Eric Adams eric adams Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving NBA New York New York City vaccine mandate vaccine mandates
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