Background: On September 30, the NBA said that players who do not comply with local vaccine mandates would not be paid for missed games. Those missed games can could mean missing out on millions of dollars.
Although 96 percent of the league is vaccinated, some high-profile players are unwilling to bend the knee.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving: The nets decided to ban Irving from games and team practice because of his vaccination status. Maintaining his unvaccinated status would mean $15 million lost for the basketball player.
A grander fight: For Irving, vaccination is a serious decision. According to sources close to Irving, he is "upset that people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates. ... To him this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and peoples' livelihoods."
"Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless," a source told The Athletic.
"I am protected by God, and so are my people. We stand together," Irving tweeted earlier this month.
No more contract extension: The Brooklyn Nets will not be offering Irving an extension for his contract with the team moving forward. Because Irving decided to remain unvaccinated, he sacrificed $15 million in salary for this year and $186 million as an extension, which will now not be offered.
To Kyrie Irving, this is about the millions of Americans who are being deprived of their freedoms but don't have the luxury to protest.
Other NBA players have chimed in
Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac: "It is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice, without bullying, being pressured, or being forced... Loving your neighbor is not just loving those who look like you or agree with you."
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal: "Every player, every person in this world is going to make their own decision for themselves." He questioned the narrative about why the shots were being mandated even though the inoculated still get sick and spread the virus.
Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.: "My stance on the mandate is it definitely shouldn't be a mandate. It should be everyone's decision."
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins: The NBA denied his request for religious exemptions and wouldn't be able to play home games without the vaccinations. "I feel like my only option was to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA." He since caved and received the vaccine, feelings as if he was "forced."