Floyd Mayweather has stepped into the NBA ring involving Kyrie Irving and local COVID vaccine mandates.
In a video posted to Twitter on Monday, Mayweather declared that he respected the Nets star for “having some integrity and being your own man.” Under New York City’s guidelines, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets players are not allowed to enter their home arenas for games. Knowing that Irving would only be available for road games until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, Brooklyn decided before the start of the 2021-22 regular season that Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is “eligible to be a full participant.”
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In Mayweather’s eyes, Irving is making a brave stand and won’t “be controlled by money.” Here is Mayweather’s full statement:
“Kyrie, what’s up? I know you’re going through a lot. We had a chance to hang out in 2016 when you represented America, when you represented the red, white and blue. You only want to be treated fair. I was gonna post something on one of my social media pages, but I decided to do it the old-school way and read it out to you because you’re a great person, great father, great athlete. And you believe what you believe.
“America is the land of the free: freedom of speech, freedom of religion and, supposedly, freedom to choose. Never be controlled by money. I respect you for having some integrity and being your own man. A free mind makes his own choices, and a slave mind follows the crowd. Stand for something or fall for anything. One man can lead a revolution to stand up and fight for what’s right. One choice, one word, one action, can change the world. It’s crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say enough is enough.
“Respect to you, Kyrie, and power to the people.”
Mayweather shared the video only a day after anti-vaccine mandate protestors gathered outside of the Barclays Center ahead of the Nets’ home opener against the Hornets. Protestors could be heard saying, “I’m with Kyrie” and “No more mandates.”
Irving did not directly respond to questions about his vaccination status during the Nets’ media day in September, only saying that he wanted to keep the situation “private and handle it the right way with my team.” He addressed the subject in more detail as part of an Instagram Live video earlier this month.
“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets. This is not about the organization. It’s not about the NBA. It’s not politics,” Irving said. “It’s not any one thing. It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
While Mayweather and others are standing behind Irving, plenty of critics have called out the 29-year-old for his stance. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith ripped Irving for reportedly wanting to be a “voice for the voiceless,” saying that his reasoning for remaining unvaccinated was “flat-out stupid.” Hall of Famer Charles Barkley praised the Nets for keeping Irving away from the team until he is a full-time player and noted that Irving will still be paid for the road games he misses.
As for Irving’s teammates, they are operating under the assumption that Irving won’t be back on the floor anytime soon.
“We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor. And he is a huge part of what we do. But it is not happening right now,” Nets star Kevin Durant said on Sunday. “So we got to figure it out. But nobody is going to lose confidence while we’re playing and hope Kyrie comes to save us during the game. No, we got to play. Everybody here is confident in what they do, so we just got to play.”
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