Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving said he understood the Nets' decision to send him home for being unvaccinated. Irving refused to get vaccinated and the Nets sent him home because they didn't want to have him only for road games.
After placing nearly 10 players in the NBA's health and safety protocols, the Nets decided to return Irving to the team. "I understood their decision and respected it," Irving told beat writers Wednesday at the Nets practice facility in Brooklyn, making his first public comments since Oct.
13. "I really had to sit back and think and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization, my teammates.
"I really empathized and I understood their choice to say if you are not going to be fully vaccinated, then you can't be a full [participate]."
Irving missed basketball
"I've missed so much time," Irving said of being away.
"It's my first day back around the block with the guys and it felt like it's been a long time. It's only been what, three months or so. But it has felt like the days have been slowly crossed off the calendar while I am sitting at home.
When I thought about [returning to practice] last night, I could barely sleep." Irving made it clear he knew the consequences of being unvaccinated. "I knew the consequences," Irving said of not being vaccinated and having to be away from the team.
"I wasn't prepared for them by no stretch of the imagination. Coming into the season, I had my thought process on being a full-time teammate and just going out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball. But unfortunately it didn't happen like that.
Things happen for a reason. We are here and I am just grateful for this." Irving is back with the Nets and he insists he is "incredibly grateful:" "Incredibly grateful just to be back in the building," Irving said.
"Welcomed back with open arms [from] my teammates, the whole organization. Not gonna lie, it has been relatively tough to watch from the sideline with everything going on in the world. I know everybody is feeling it [COVID].
Just praying for everybody to be healthy during these times. If I get the opportunity to get on the court and play with my teammates, even if it is just on the road for away games, I am grateful for the opportunity."