NBA coach's devastating admission amid Kyrie Irving saga

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·Sports Reporter
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Kyrie Irving is maintaining his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, despite being banned from playing home games if he doesn't.
Kyrie Irving will be required to sit out all of Brooklyn's home games this season if he continues his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19. (Photo by Steven Ryan /Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has all but accepted NBA star Kyrie Irving will not appear in any of the team's 42 home games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Irving's immediate playing future has been in doubt since New York City's vaccine mandate came into effect.

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The Nets point guard will be unable to play in all 42 of the team's home games, as well as games against the New York Knicks, due to the mandate.

Games in San Francisco against the Warriors, and in Los Angeles against the Lakers and Clippers are also off the table thanks to similar mandates in those cities.

Nash said it was now a reality that the team would be without Irving for the majority of the season, including any home playoff games.

"I think we recognisNBAe he's not playing home games," Nash said after practice over the weekend. 

"So we're going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much."

The Nets caught a break when a city ruling found that the team's workout facility would be determined a 'private office space', thereby exempting it from rules that would otherwise require proof of vaccination.

"We're trying to look at the big picture, the near-term," Nash said. 

"Right now, I'm not sure that we have as many answers. We're just trying to re-implement him back into the training arena and get his body right and make decisions as we go."

While the team hopes for another rule change to allow Irving to play in home games, there's no guarantee that will come at any point in a six-month NBA season that tips off October 19.

"We assume he's not going to be available for home games," Nash said. "Anything can change. Who's to say? The city's ordinance could change? Anything could change.

"We're just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go because information is coming in by the half-day here."

Nets players maintain Kyrie Irving not a distraction ahead of NBA season

Kevin Durant, the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player and a two-time NBA champion, and James Harden, the 2018 NBA MVP and a three-time league scoring champion, will power the Nets into the 2021-22 campaign no matter what Irving's status might be.

Nets forward Blake Griffin, a six-time All-Star, says Irving moving in and out of the lineup isn't such a challenge for the club.

"It's never really an issue of fitting in at all," Griffin said. 

"I've known Kyrie for so long. When he's around, the energy is better. You always notice his presence. So there's no 'getting used to' — it's just like he's back and we're here to support him however.

"We're always glad when he's around."

The Brooklyn Nets will miss the presence of Kyrie Irving at home games this season, but teammates are adamant it won't be a distraction. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Nets will miss the presence of Kyrie Irving at home games this season, but teammates are adamant it won't be a distraction. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The Nets are still working on fitness and conditioning issues with Irving after his missed time in the gym.

Barring a change in vaccination policy or Irving getting an injection, he will miss the Nets' final pre-season game Thursday against Minnesota as well as a pre-season game Monday at Philadelphia.

The Nets begin their regular season on October 19 at reigning NBA champion Milwaukee.

Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins was taking a similar stance against San Francisco's mandate before coach Steve Kerr revealed Sunday that Wiggins got the jab.

Wiggins tried to apply for a religious exemption first, but the NBA denied it and San Francisco's health department made clear it would not accept any exemptions.

The NBA itself is not mandating players receive the vaccine, but, like other professional sports leagues in North America, it's imposing strict rules for those who decline it.

The league and the players' association agreed on a pay reduction equivalent to 1/91.6 of an individual's salary for each game missed due to local markets' vaccine mandates.

With agencies

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