The seven-time All Star and Brooklyn Net’s player, Kyrie Irving recently announced views about hesitancy toward COVID-19 vaccinations. Irving serves as the Vice President of the players union and has blocked efforts made to impose a vaccine mandate.
Irving was born in Melbourne, Australia on March 23, 1992. He started his NBA career becoming a basketball star at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After gaining attention for his athletic ability he committed to Duke University in 2009 working towards the opportunity to play professionally. He played for Duke University as a Blue Devil, and was drafted by the NBA to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011. Since then, Irving played for various teams in the NBA also playing alongside Hall of Famer’s. What wasn’t praised so much, was his recent announcement to remain unvaccinated. This decision sparked public backlash due to opposing efforts encouraging the public to get vaccinated. As confirmed this past week, the NBA will be withholding salaries from players who are currently unable to play because of their unvaccinated status. Meaning, Kyrie Irving could potentially miss out on half of his $34 million contract for the Brooklyn Nets home games.
We’ve entered the conversation of personal choice, COVID-19 culture, and “cancel culture“. As everyday people grew to adjust the new normal: wearing masks, using extra hand-sanitizer, or staying 6-feet a part, vaccine’s grew more probable. Private and public institutions began to mandate requirements for vaccine cards or proof of negative COVID-19 test results. Similar to the reaction of other pandemics such as the Swine flu and Ebola, people were hesitant about receiving the vaccine. Culturally, religiously, and politically there are many reasons people oppose to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. With the trust that “everyday” citizens have for high profile people, like basketball stars, Kyrie Irving is in the hot seat.
” I would just appeal to him, get vaccinated. Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back”– De Blasio
Recently, YouTube made an effort to remove “anti-vaccine” content from their platform, as many people were mislead or misinformed by some channels. This was an effort to encourage Americans to receive both doses of the vaccines, to lower the casualty rates resulted from this virus. Because Irving has been an active figure for social justice in the NBA, fans were outraged by his punishment to bench Brooklyn Nets games for exercising his personal choice. Is Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated sending the “wrong messages” to fans? Should the NBA be able to withhold pay from players who refuse to get vaccinated? Does Irving’s example of exercising his personal choice encourage others to do more research on vaccines? How will this impact the NBA? How will this impact American citizens in the workplace? Is this an invasion of the First Amendment?