NBA Teams Drop the Hammer on Unvaccinated Players, but They're Still Speaking Out

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

I’m not sure that anyone thought they would have NBA players on their bingo card of folks standing up for rights and personal freedom.

As we have noted, some players have recently made some powerful statements on the issue including the Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac, Washington Wizard Braley Beal, and Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green.

But now, some who have stood against the vaccine mandate and not gotten vaccinated are facing action from their teams.

The Brooklyn Nets have announced that star Kyrie Irving will not be allowed to play or practice with the team until he gets vaccinated — even outside of New York, where he isn’t necessarily violating any mandates. Because of New York mandates, all Nets and Knicks players are now required to be vaccinated. Irving is the only one of the New York players standing in the breach.

From New York Post:

“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” the statement read. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.

“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”

So basically, they’re willing to sit their star and drop him out in order to force him to comply even in places where there is no edict preventing him from playing. That may cost them on the court, in addition to public opinion. But they’re trying to shut down any pushback. Meanwhile, Irving is risking a lot with this stand — his career with the team and all the millions he would make in the process.

The Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac is another one standing against mandates. He did an interview with the Blaze where he described what his team’s response has been to his stand. Now, keep in mind that Isaac is not against people getting the vaccine, but he already had the virus and says he still has natural immunity.

But that’s one of the things missing from this mandate push is the recognition that natural immunity does play, as Isaac notes. He says that he isn’t allowed to eat with the team or go to team functions. But then, he’s allowed to walk out of the tunnel with them and then play with them, which he doesn’t think “logically follows.” Natural immunity is being ignored, he says, while this is all about a virus with a “high survival rate.”

Isaac had previously spoken out to Fox, saying that “Everyone should be free to make that decision for themselves.”

Isaac warned,

“We’re entering a period of time where the government is setting a precedent that in light of any emergency, your personal autonomy, your religious freedom, and honestly your freedom as a whole, becomes negotiable to whoever is in power or whoever agrees with the people in power.”

He continued,

“We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave and we have to take the opportunity and the platform to say what it is that we feel is right, and I’m taking that right to do so, not just for me, but for all the people who feel like they don’t have a voice, who feel like their rights and their liberties are being threatened at this time.”

It’s hard to say it much better than that.