NEW YORK (AP) — Unable to attend the Brooklyn Nets' media day, Kyrie Irving asked for privacy Monday when pressed about his vaccination status and availability for home games.
On a bizarre day in which comedian David Letterman was present but Irving wasn't, the seven-time All-Star spoke via Zoom through a monitor set up in the interview room at Barclays Center. New York has a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for athletes who play in or practice in the city.
Irving wouldn't say if he has received a shot or if he intended to get one. If a player is not vaccinated, he would be forced to sit out the Nets' home games.
“There’s just a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I’d love to just keep that private and handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with a plan,” Irving said. “So 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.”
The Nets are holding their training camp in San Diego, so Irving would be able to participate. They will return to Brooklyn after playing their exhibition opener in Los Angeles next Sunday.
“Please, everything will be released at a due date and once we get this cleared up,” Irving said. “As of right now, please just respect my privacy regarding anything — home games, what's happening with vaccination.”
The players who were asked about Irving said they weren't concerned. That included Kevin Durant, who was asked after getting a few comedic questions such as why he was nicknamed “KD” from Letterman, who said he was reporting for Basketball Digest.
“It’s on Kyrie and that’s his personal decision,” Durant said. “What he does is not on us to speculate what may happen, but we trust in Kyrie. I expect us to have our whole team at some point.”
Irving missed seven games last season when he took a leave of absence from the Nets. He realizes he's created even more questions about a team that is considered an NBA title contender.
“So I know that the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions and this is the last thing I wanted to create was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama,” Irving said.
While he wasn't at the Nets' arena — which became a vaccination site in May during the playoffs — LaMarcus Aldridge returned after retiring because of a heart condition following a five-game stint with the team last season.
Aldridge said he experienced an irregular heartbeat after a game last April and decided to end his career. But he said he soon began testing and working out in hopes that he could play again.
General manager Sean Marks said he initially tried to talk Aldridge out of it, but the power forward was comfortable that his health allowed him to resume.
“I still the love the game, I’m still capable of helping this team win,” Aldridge said. “I still can bring something to the table. So that’s why, is I still love the game and I want to play.”
Diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome — an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat — as a rookie in 2007, Aldridge said he had never experienced an episode like the one following an April 10 loss to the Lakers.
He had scored 22 points, his high with the Nets, in his previous game and had become their starting center. But he said after his final game he was scared enough by the symptoms that he didn't want play again.
But now, at 36, Aldridge said he wanted to come back and chase a championship with teammates he didn't get to spend much time with last season.
“I don’t want to let those three days kind of write the end of my career,” Aldridge said. “I want to kind of do it on my terms and that’s why I did everything I did the last five months to get back. I want to go out on my own terms.”
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