Kyrie Irving doubles down on vaccine stance on Instagram Live

"I know the consequences here," Irving said, "and if it means that I'm judged and demonized for that, that's just what it is."

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, one of the last remaining holdouts refusing to be vaccinated despite the NBA mandate, went live on his Instagram page Wednesday night to explain why. 

Irving said, in part, that he is “standing with all those that believe what is right.” He added: “Everybody is entitled to do what they feel is what’s best for themselves. Seeing the way this is dividing our world up, it’s sad to see. People are losing jobs to mandates.” 

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets went live on Instagram Wednesday to explain why he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

“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,” Irving said, in a portion of the live broadcast captured by journalist Chris Haynes. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”

“It’s about choosing what’s best for you,” Irving continued. “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?”

Irving claimed he has been dreaming of playing in the NBA and winning a championship since he was in the fourth grade. However, “I’m not going to be used as a person in this agenda,” he said.

At one point, there were more than 96,000 people watching the live broadcast. 

“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics,” Irving told viewers. “It’s not any one thing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”

Irving also addressed rumors that he would retire from the league, saying, per, “No, I’m not retiring, and no, I’m not going and leaving this game like this. There’s still so much more work to do, and there’s still so many other (youngsters) to inspire, because I know they want to be better than me.”

Due to New York City COVID protocols, Irving has been benched by his team, unable to either practice or play with the Nets. He is barred from playing until he becomes “eligible to be a full participant” in the team. 

Irving has held strong to his anti-vaccination stance for months. As previously reported, popular sports analyst, podcaster and journalist Jemele Hill took to the airwaves on MSNBC last week to urge him to “look at the bigger picture.” 

“With somebody in a position of leadership and influence, he needs to think about how his message is being received by the people who look up to him, who watch him, who idolize him,” Hill told Nicole Wallace on Deadline: White House. “Everybody that watches Kyrie Irving doesn’t have millions of dollars.”

“He’s got to really think, is he really being responsible in how he’s using this platform that he’s been gifted with?” she continued: “And so I would love for him to see this as an opportunity to really speak to the communities that he cares about and not further endanger them by holding out from these vaccinations.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!