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Kevin Durant Won't "Force" Kyrie Irving To Get Vaccinated

Source: Sarah Stier / Getty

Don’t count on Kevin Durant to talk some sense into the “voice of the voiceless,” Kyrie Irving.

Following the Brooklyn Nets’ fifth consecutive home loss, Kevin Durant spoke on having conversations with Kyrie Irving about the importance of becoming a full-time player. But, he also added that he wouldn’t push Irving to correct the one issue keeping that from happening.

Irving is back with the Brooklyn Nets, part-time, and due to his unvaccinated status, he can only play in road games outside of New York City and Canada. Irving’s presence was sorely missed during Friday’s embarrassing 121-109 blowout loss to the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. Following the Nets’ disappointing performance, Durant revealed to reporters Irving being on the court would have provided a much-needed boost.

“I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play—play every game. But I’m not about to force somebody to get a vaccine, like that’s not my thing. So he can play basketball? Nah, I’m not about to do that.”

“We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time. Whatever decision he want to make, he’s going to make. It’s on us to be professionals no matter what, and do our jobs. All of us—from the owner down to the equipment manager—so whenever he ready, he’ll be ready.”

James Harden, the other player a part of the Nets “big three,” said the team is used to being without Irving and will use his part-time availability as a boost.

“It wasn’t strange, nah. It felt good, honestly, to have him back. It felt good. It felt like an extra life that we had. But we got to live with what we’re dealt with, and that’s home games we got to figure ways [to win]. And even road games—just ’cause Ky’s on the road with us don’t mean he’s going to be easy for us as well. So we got to mesh and, we got to find ways to win games … every time we step on the floor teams are going at us, they feel like they got something to prove, and we got to know that. And we got to bring that same mentality towards them.”

It’s no secret that the Nets are two different teams when Irving is on the court, and when he is off, it was evident in their Wednesday night road victory over the Indiana Pacers. Irving battled through rust in the 4th quarter finishing with 22 points, four assists, three rebounds, and three steals in a 129-121 win.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic works throughout the season, especially if the Nets secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Currently, the Nets have a 24-13 record, behind the resurgent Chicago Bulls.

Photo: Sarah Stier / Getty