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Brooklyn Nets Media Day

Source: Dustin Satloff / Getty

Kyrie Irving was pretty candid at the Brooklyn Nets Media Day on Monday. He talked about how he handled the “ultimatum” from the organization to take the COVID vaccine. But more so, the 7x All-Star said that his refusal to get vaccinated hurt him financially and jeopardized his career in the league.

“I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision,” he told reporters. “[Get this] contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you’re going to be in this league, whether you’re going to be on this team, so I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision.”

“We were supposed to have all that figured out before training camp last year,” the Nets point guard added. “And it just didn’t happen because of the status of me being vaccinated, unvaccinated. So, I understood their point and I just had to live with it. It was a tough pill to swallow, honestly.”

Irving has remained firm about not taking the shot from the start, and Monday’s remarks only serve to reinforce his social media from last week. “If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired,” he tweeted on September 20. “This enforced Vaccine/Pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.”

But Nets general manager Sean Marks refuted Irving’s claim of an ultimatum per se. According to him, keeping Irving off the court was a business decision coupled with the New York City mandate at the time.

“There’s no ultimatum being given here,” Marks said. “Again, it goes back to you want people who are reliable, people who are here, and accountable. All of us: staff, players, coaches, you name it. It’s not giving somebody an ultimatum to get a vaccine. That’s a completely personal choice. I stand by Kyrie. I think if he wants, he’s made that choice. That’s his prerogative completely.”

“So two summers ago, that was pre-citywide, statewide mandates that went in,” he continued. “So once the vaccine mandates came in, and we knew how that would affect [Irving] playing home games and so forth, that’s when contract talks stalled. So it didn’t get to [a point], ‘Here’s the deal, now take it back.’ That never happened.”