clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Robinson: Kyrie Irving concerned about vaccine side-effects, is working out and ‘happiest in years’

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Wagner v Seton Hall Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, who’s known to have good sourcing in Kyrie Irving’s camp, writes Monday that Irving is still reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine because of possible “long-term side effects”, but that he’s regularly working out, keeping active, and is, according to one source, “the happiest that I’ve seen Kyrie in years” even without basketball.

Robinson also reports that Irving doesn’t want to be seen as anti-vaccine.

Those closest to him also have shared that Irving knows anything he says will be magnified and scrutinized and he doesn’t want to be viewed as an anti-vaxxer. He’s not taking this stance to be a voice for the voiceless. He’s just not trusting of the available vaccines, according to sources.

Specifically, Robinson quoted Irving’s “circle” on his concerns about the “long-term effects” of the COVID vaccines, which have been taken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. The story did detail what purported long-term effects he’s concerned about.

Among Irving’s circle, the general consensus is that he is not anti-vaccination and believes everyone has the right to make their own decision. His apprehension about the COVID vaccine stems from his concerns about the possibility of long-term side effects, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are “extremely unlikely.”

That would seem to fly in the face of previous reports from Irving’s camp via Robinson and Shams Charania as well as from Irving himself: 1) he was taking his stand because of vaccine mandates not the vaccine specifically and 2) he wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless” on the mandate issue. He has also called his decision private. Irving himself has not spoken on the subject since mid-October.

As a result of his refusal to get the jab, he is not permitted to play in New York under the city’s vaccine mandate. Rather than only play Irving on the road, the Nets decided not to play him at all until he gets vaccinated ... or in the increasingly unlikely prospect that the city will change or lift its mandate.

Also on Monday, Mayor Bill deBlasio tightened the city’s mandate on indoor venues requiring not a just a single shot of the Pfizer or Moderna two-shot protocol but instead full vaccination status. The city is concerned by rising infection rates and less than optimum vaccination rates in some areas and populations amid the city’s generally positive situation. There’s some indications, however, that incoming mayor, Eric Adams, may not keep the mandate when he takes office in three weeks.

Robinson suggested that perhaps Irving would be more likely to take a plant-based vaccine since he is now on a “100 percent plant-based diet.”

Irving has adopted a 100-percent plant-based diet, so he could wait until a plant-based version of the vaccine has been completed and approved. One such vaccine is undergoing clinical trials with more than 30,000 people taking part, according to a report in August.

On Tuesday, the companies behind the vaccine announced results of the first trials of the plant-based vaccine, saying they’ll soon move to get FDA approval. Based on the history of U.S. regulatory approvals, the vaccine is unlikely to receive a go-ahead for another three months.

Those close to Irving also told Robinson that his reluctance to take the vaccine is related as well to “bad experiences with his health due to basketball injuries over the years,” suggesting an issue with medical science in general. Robinson writes...

Since his freshman year at Duke, Irving has missed 261 out of 950 games, including the last five of the 2015 NBA Finals when a fractured kneecap required surgery and forced him to miss 29 games the following season. His 2018 knee surgery in Boston was a corrective procedure because the screws from his 2015 surgery caused an infection in his knee. Moreover, a 2019 shoulder injury became difficult to diagnose and ultimately forced him to have surgery in 2020.

“Based on his last three or four years, I can see why he’d be apprehensive,” a source shared.

None of those experiences involved a communicable disease or a vaccine.

The quote regarding Irving’s happiness is bound to be questioned as well in the context of how much he still wants to play for the Nets or in the NBA. Irving missed eight games a year ago, an unexcused absence he later said was needed to deal with “family and personal stuff,” not further described.

Robinson laid out how Irving has twice attended Seton Hall games at the Prudential Center in Newark (without speaking to the media) and may be working on something hoops related with another New Jersey high school star Tim Thomas, the former Knick.

Meanwhile, Steve Nash spoke again about coaching the team without Irving.

“We just focus on our group and getting better every single day, and if we get the gift of his return, we’ll be ecstatic, but we can’t count on it,” Nash said after Monday’s practice. “We can’t wait for him. We have to get to work, and get better, and our group’s been awesome this year.”