The Philadelphia 76ers hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night. That preseason matchup came just a few days after Brooklyn's star guard Kyrie Irving made his practice debut with the team.
As Irving refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he is not cleared to play in any home games. However, he could appear in most away games. Although Irving technically could've faced the Sixers on Monday night, he was not with the team.
Since Irving just appeared in his first practice of the offseason over the weekend, Brooklyn's head coach Steve Nash ruled the All-Star out a day early as Irving remained in Brooklyn preparing for his next on-court opportunity while his team played in Philly.
But it seems that his next on-court opportunity might not come as soon as expected for Irving. According to a statement released by the Nets on Tuesday morning, Irving will not participate with the team in any games or practices until he's considered a full participant. Due to Brooklyn's current rules, Irving cannot play in any home games until he receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
“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. 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.”
The Nets remain strong contenders in the Eastern Conference without Irving on their roster temporarily. However, his absence is notable for the Nets. Over the course of the regular season and the playoffs last year, Brooklyn has dealt with many notable injuries -- especially to other stars such as Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Without Irving available to them, that's one less star for Brooklyn to rely on as they embark on a season where they are championship favorites coming out of the East as the 2021-2022 regular season approaches.