Former NBA player John Salley defends Kyrie Irving for vaccination status

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Former NBA player John Salley defended Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving over his decision not to arrive vaccinated against coronaviruscausing him to miss a significant number of games this season.

Salley commended Irving for his efforts in evaluating what goes into his body this week.

“I think Kyrie Irving is the main athlete, pro,” Salley said in an interview with TMZ. “I think he’s conscious. I think he’s thinking about it. I think it’s very important that people pay attention too, he doesn’t care about lies, glitz. He takes care of his body.”

Salley explained that Irving does his research but is ridiculed because his beliefs go beyond the traditional point of view.

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John Salley attends PETA's 35th Anniversary Party at the Hollywood Palladium on September 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

John Salley attends PETA’s 35th Anniversary Party at the Hollywood Palladium on September 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic via Getty)

“I’m the biggest Kyrie fan,” Salley said. “Everything he does, I take his hat off.”

The NBA didn’t have a vaccination mandates for his players this season, but due to a New York City-based local activity mandate in effect for most of the season, Irving has been banned from playing home games.

Irving was still allowed to play in away games, and unvaccinated players competing for visiting teams were still allowed to play in New York City arenas.

The Nets had initially decided not to let Irving play as they didn’t want him to be just a part-time player. But a COVID outbreak in December that resulted in several players missing matches forced the team’s hand, and Irving began playing away games starting January 5.

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Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after hitting a basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of the opening basketball game of the NBA game tournament on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 in New York.
(Photo AP / Seth Little)

“You have a boyfriend who didn’t get the virus, and everyone who talked about him sucked got really bad,” Salley said. “He had a very strong immune system.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams relaxed COVID mandates in early March to allow unvaccinated people to enter bars, gyms and large venues such as sports arenas, a rule that allowed Irving to watch matches in the arena of home of the Nets as a fan but that still prevented him from adapting for his team.

Later that month, Adams again updated COVID restrictions to allow unvaccinated athletes and entertainers to perform in town, allowing Irving to play every Nets game for the remainder of the season.

The Nets have suggested they may not want to re-sign Irving with a long-term contract, although it’s unclear what exactly the organization’s intentions are. Irving has a $ 36.5 million player option this summer, which allows him to either join the deal for next season or turn him down and test his worth on the free agent market.

Kyrie Irving b. 11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Kyrie Irving b. 11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)

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And according to reports, Irving’s shoe deal with Nike may not be extended beyond next season.

The Nets finished the season with the seventh best Eastern Conference record, but they were blown away in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.

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“I watch how he plays,” Salley said. “His dribbling, his handling of him; he will become a Hall of Famer.”