NBA legend Charles Barkley isn’t happy with Kyrie Irving’s return to the Brooklyn Nets following his temporary sidelining for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“If you want to make a political point, which is silly and stupid, and not get vaccinated, that’s fine with me,” Barkley said Thursday on TNT. “Kyrie is a heck of a player. But to only play in road games, I don’t think it’s fair to the game … but more importantly, I don’t think it’s fair to the team.”
The Nets benched Irving in October. New York City’s vaccine rules meant he couldn’t play home games. He was brought back to the court in December as the coronavirus spread throughout the team.
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Former NBA player Kenny Smith argued Irving wasn’t himself deciding to play part-time and was only unable to play in home games because of the mandate.
But Barkley wasn’t convinced.
“I’m not even sure what they realized,” Barkley said of the Nets’ decision to bring Irving back. “They’re like, ‘We’re gonna let you play in half the games.’ And I just have a problem with that personally.”
Barkley’s stance should come as no surprise, though.
Last year, he slammed Irving for still receiving half of his $35 million salary while sitting out the season. He’s also repeatedly criticized sports stars who refuse to get inoculated against the disease as “selfish.”