NBA legend lashes anti-vaxxer's absurd $23 million payday

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Seen here, Kyrie Irving warms up with NBA side the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyrie Irving is still being paid millions by the Nets despite not featuring because of his anti-vaxx stance. Pic: Getty

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has vented his disgust over the Kyrie Irving controversy, with the Brooklyn Nets star banned from all practice sessions and games for refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Nets lost their season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first of what could be many games without their superstar guard, Irving.

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New York's vaccine mandate bars him from playing games at home, and the Nets have also decided to bar him from playing away games until he gets vaccinated.

Speaking on "NBA on TNT," Barkley praised the Nets for refusing to let Irving be a part-time player, but said he was filthy about the fact he's still being paid exorbitant wages despite the fact he's not featuring for the team.

“The only thing that bugs me is he’s still going to make $US17 million ($AUD23 million) sitting at home,” Barkley said.

“I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down — for saying, ‘No, we’re not going to deal with this half on, half off (situation)'".

Barkley also let rip at Irving for his anti-vaxx stance and said the issue was more important than the beliefs of one person.

“First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people," Barkley said. 

"I got vaccinated and I can't wait to get the booster. You don't get vaccinated just for yourself ... You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second.   

"That's what bothers me about this whole thing. I think everybody should get vaccinated. I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down and saying we’re not going to deal with this half on, half off. The only thing that bugs me is he’s still going to make $17 million sitting at home."

Kyrie Irving urged to get vaccinated

NBA commissioner Adam Silver also weighed in on the Irving situation. Ernie Johnson asked him on "NBA on TNT" what he'd say to Irving to convince him to get the vaccine. 

"I'd tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost, for himself and his family," Silver said. "Next, for his teammates and his community, and also for the league that I know he cares so much about. I understand it's not just Kyrie. There are people in this country who disagree with the notion of getting vaccinated. But at least from everything that I understand, science is firmly on the side of getting vaccinated."

Silver also said that Irving's decision to refuse the vaccine is keeping him from doing more than just his job as a basketball player. It could also keep him from being an "engaged member of society."

“It’s already saved tens of millions of lives. I think, at some point, for Kyrie to be an engaged member of society — putting aside this league — he needs to get vaccinated. That’s the law in New York: if you want to play in an arena, if you want to visit an arena, if you want to participate in an activity in an arena, you need to be vaccinated, and that’s where he finds himself.”

The Nets already have one game in the books without Irving. He could choose to miss no more games and get vaccinated, or he could miss every single game this season. The decision is entirely up to Irving. 

with Yahoo Sports US

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