Nets owner Joe Tsai weighs in on Kyrie Irving's COVID-19 vaccination uncertainty: 'I hope to see Kyrie play fully'

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Kyrie Irving alt jersey close shot
Kyrie Irving alt jersey close shot

Speaking on Thursday, Nets owner Joe Tsai weighed in on the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, who is reportedly not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Kyrie talks about it as a sort of personal choice issue, which I respect," Tsai told Brian Lewis of The New York Post. "But we all need to not forget that our goal, what is our goal this year. What's our purpose this year? Its very very clear -- win a championship. And a championship team needs to have everybody pulling the same direction. So I hope to see Kyrie play fully and win a championship together with everybody else with all his teammates."

Irving was not at Nets media day on Monday due to New York City COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

He will not be allowed at the Nets' facility in Brooklyn or to play in home games this season unless he gets the vaccine.

Speaking on Monday via Zoom at a location away from media day, Irving refused to discuss his vaccination status or whether he expected to play home games this season.

"Honestly, I'd like to keep that stuff private," Irving told reporters. "I'm a human being first. Obviously living in this public sphere it's just a lot of questions about what's going on in the world of Kyrie. And I think I just would love to just keep that private, handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with the plan.

"Obviously I'm not able to be present there today. But that doesn't mean that I'm putting any limits on the future of me being able to join the team. And I just want to keep it that way, so we can keep that private. But if anyone has any further questions about that, it'll be the same response. I would like to keep that private, and just please respect that -- my privacy."

Asked about Irving's absence on Monday, Kevin Durant said "it's on Kyrie, it's a personal decision."

SNY's Ian Begley reported earlier this month that the league sent a memo breaking down the new protocols for teams in areas with local COVID-19 requirements, such as New York City.

Per a New York City executive order, visiting players are exempt from the vaccine requirement, but Nets and Knicks players are not. There is a similar local ordinance in San Francisco, impacting the Golden State Warriors.

If an unvaccinated Knick or Net player doesn’t have a medical or religious exemption (determined by the NBA, which recently rejected Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins' request for an exemption), the player won’t be allowed to enter home arenas or practice facilities or participate in any games, practices, or other team activities conducted at the arenas/practice facilities in those states.

Players who do not get the COVID vaccine will not be paid for games they miss due to not being allowed at their home arena.

Begley previously noted that players failing to adhere to the local requirements could be viewed as failing to provide services under terms of their contract and could be fined or suspended by the league or their team or see their compensation reduced.