Irving was benched by the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday over his refusal to receive the shot. Professional athletes in New York have to be vaccinated in order to play or practice in public venues. The Nets didn’t want a part-time player who was only able to play games on the road.
According to sources cited by The Athletic, Irving said he was not anti-vaccine, but was “upset that people are losing their job due to vaccine mandates.”
“To him, this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and people’s livelihood,” per The Athletic.
“It is a decision that he believes he is capable to make given his current life dynamics,” the outlet added, citing a source who said the star guard “wants to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Critics called out the explanation.
“This is both Bull and Shit,” wrote ex-MSNBC and ESPN journalist Keith Olbermann.
Others echoed the sentiment: