On Sunday, Kyrie Irving decided to watch a basketball game in Brooklyn.
And all heck broke loose.
In case you don’t know, Irving plays basketball for the Brooklyn Nets (my favorite team, from back when their home was a parking lot in New Jersey). He’s very good. He has maybe the best “handle” - ability to dribble - in the world.
Irving is also an odd duck. He made news in 2018 for saying he thought the earth might be flat.
Last year Irving decided he needed time off mid-season because he was upset about police shootings of African-Americans. By all accounts, his feelings were genuine. Still, most of us would get a one-way ride to the unemployment office if we didn’t show for work because of our feelings, however genuine. Having the world’s best handle has its privileges.
This season, Irving has been in the news for a different reason, his refusal to be jabbed with mRNA.
As a fellow pureblood, I am on Irving’s side. And unlike Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Irving owned his choice. He didn’t say he was “immunized” or “partially hydrogenated” or “league MVP so I can do what I want.”
No, Kyrie said he wasn’t vaccinated and wasn’t getting vaccinated. The end.
Only it wasn’t. The NBA and its players had agreed Covid shots would not be mandatory (professional athletes have unions nearly as strong as teachers), but New York City had other ideas.
n September, as part of his never-ending quest to ruin New York, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio required Covid jabs for adults going to indoor venues like restaurants or gyms. Including Barclays Center, where the Nets play. Then, in December, de Blasio extended the mandate to all private workplaces.
The mandates meant that Irving couldn’t play basketball at Barclays. He was allowed to play outside New York, but in October the Nets said they wouldn’t let him do that either if he couldn’t play at home.
Irving was due to make $35 million this season, just shy of $400,000 a game (which made him only the third-highest paid player on the Nets, amazing but true). Thus, every home game he missed cost him $400,000.
And I thought I was committed to staying unvaccinated. Though the team still had to pay Irving for the road games.
Kyrie’s stance brought him a lot of heat from the ESPNs of the world. Sports talk show hosts have been among the loudest screechers for Team Apocalypse. I thought they were men who liked sports, but apparently not. They were desperate to see the college football season canceled in 2020, and their disappointment when the games proceeded without dozens of Covid deaths was palpable. They have also resolutely refused to say a word about athletes who have heart problems after getting mRNA shots.
But Kyrie stayed firm. Dude said the world might be flat! He doesn’t care what some chubby middle-aged radio announcer thinks. So the season started without him.
The first crack in this standoff came in December, when the Nets said they would start playing Kyrie on the road.
Why? Because so many of their vaccinated players were infected with Omicron and missing games.
Read the rest here.