Irving is unable to play games at the Barclays Center due to his vaccination status. The Nets activated him in December so that he can play road games. Irving had 27 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in the team’s 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“That’s what I feel like ends up coming into a lot of this culture of basketball and sports and entertainment is you bring in the team, and you bring in situations that we’re in and Kevin. Kev’s gonna heal. Kev’s gonna be OK, and we’re gonna have to deal with that as his teammates, but in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision, and that’s just what it is,” Irving said, via the New York Daily News.
“I just am standing rooted in what I believe in and though we’re dealing with this right now with Kev. I just know that I’m protected by the organization, protected by my teammates. I’m protected by all the doctors I’ve talked to, and I’m just staying rooted.”
Irving suggested he was keeping his basketball life and his life off the court separated. He said his decision to stay unvaccinated was about “making a choice with my life.”
“We live in a real world. This is great to be able to do this. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I love playing with my teammates. I love playing on the Nets, but I’ve already been away enough time to think about this, to process this, to be able to make my decision, stand strong, understand that people are gonna agree and some people are gonna disagree.”
Irving said he was just going to hope that New York City officials would change the rules, but until then he was going to stay unvaccinated.
“I made my decision already, and I’m standing on it,” he said.
Durant suffered a sprained knee ligament on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The team said an MRI revealed a sprained MCL. ESPN reported he could miss between four and six weeks.
Last week, he encouraged Irving to stick with his vaccine stance.
“We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time. Whatever decision he wants to make, he’s going to make. It’s on us to be professionals no matter what, and do our jobs. All of us — from the owner down to the equipment manager — so whenever he ready, he’ll be ready,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.