Irving rejoined the team fully last month after New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted a vaccine mandate for athletes and entertainers.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is standing his ground over his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Irving, who made his season debut Jan. 5, told reporters after practice Friday he still believes he made the “right decision” despite pushback he received over his decision to remain unvaccinated.
“I can really say that I stood firm on what I believed in, what I wanted to do with my body. That should be not just an American right, that should be a human right,” Irving said. “And when you stand for something like that, in a society that we’re in where we have a lot more followers than we do leaders, you’re going to be forced into being seen as a black sheep that people can attack and can clickbait your name and say these things that don’t really describe who you are.
“So I can’t address everybody, but as we move forward in time, I know that I made the right decision for me.”
The Nets initially decided not to have Irving participate in any games after the New York City vaccine mandate prevented him from playing at home. Following a COVID outbreak in December, the decision was made to allow him to rejoin the team.
Last month, he was able to rejoin the team fully after New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted a vaccine mandate for athletes and entertainers.
When asked if he felt he had something to prove in the playoffs after many in the organization stood up for him, Irving expressed his appreciation.
“Man, that’s a good question. It’s a great feeling when you know during uncomfortable times you can really lean in on different individuals,” he said. “Some stood by me in public, some stood by me in private, and I’m OK with both. Some disagree with me in public, some disagree with me in private. It doesn’t bother me as much as it did in the beginning, because everything was just so new.”
The Boston Celtics host the Nets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round Sunday. Boston went 3-1 against Brooklyn during the regular season. The Celtics won the last regular-season matchup 126-120 March 6 behind 54 points from Jayson Tatum. Kevin Durant scored 37 points for the Nets.