Kyrie Irving Says He’s A Voice for the Voiceless

Michael Arceneaux
5 min readSep 26, 2022


The Nets star says his vaccination status has led to stigmatization, but won’t acknowledge he made the problem worse himself.

Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash

It’s always funny when very rich people portray themselves as a victim in a mess of their own making.

On Monday, Kyrie Irving opened up about only playing as a part-time player last season due to his vaccination status and New York City’s mandates along with the postseason chaos that followed.

The point guard was largely sidelined last season but by January, Irving was allowed to play at away games, and in the following month, home games after NYC lifted its indoor mandate. He was rumored to be heading towards free agency in June after failing to sign a long term extension with the Nets, but instead of opting out of the final year of the contract he had with the team, picked up his player option. Irving cited difficulties finding options in other markets thanks to a “cluster fuck” created by the media.

“There were options but not many because the stigma of whether or not I wanted to play or whether or not I’m committed to the team, which I thought was really unfair at times,” Irving explained to reporters during the Brooklyn Nets’ media day.

Irving added that even the Brooklyn Nets backed off long-term extension talks with Irving amid the controversy.

“We were supposed to have all that figured out before training camp last year,” Irving said.

“I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this.”

The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate, but the league does defer to local health guidelines.

While Irving wasn’t hostile with the press, he did have some criticism over the coverage of his vaccination status and the professional consequences it helped yield.

“I didn’t appreciate how me being unvaccinated came to be a stigma that I don’t want to play and I don’t want to give up being a voice for the voiceless,” Irving continued.

“I gave up four years, 100-something million to be unvaccinated. I just had to live with it and it was a tough pill to swallow, honestly.”

So, I want to be fair to Kyrie by first acknowledging that he has every single right to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. Even if I find that dumb. And dangerous. Selfish and ridiculous, too.

But to some extent, I think he’s right to say that his refusal to get vaccinated means he doesn’t want to play at all.

It suggests that he only wants to play to a point — namely when it comes to getting a shot to safely play during a plague.

Last October, Irving, while speaking on Instagram Live, said he is neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine and that he fully understood the consequences of his decision.

He said:

“You really think I want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job? Think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I have been able to grow with, to learn with, to learn that it takes sacrifice in this space. … You think I want to give up my livelihood because of a mandate, because I don’t have accommodations, because I am unvaccinated? Come on.”

Irving said he is “still uncertain about a lot of things, and that is OK.”

“This is my life,” Kyrie added.

“I get to do whatever I want with this, this is one body that I get here. And you are telling me what to do with my body. … This has everything to do with what is going on in our world. And I am being grouped into something that is bigger than just the game of basketball.”

Yes, he can do whatever he wants, but even if you are a veteran NBA star and multi-millionaire, you are still an employee and resident of a local municipality subjected to certain rules and regulations. You can do as you please but not without penalty. Kyrie made a choice, but ultimately, like a lot of anti-vaxxers, he has managed to go back to work.

He seems to understand all of this yet somehow portrays himself as somewhat of a martyr and hero in this situation.

Not only was it Kyrie’s choice not to get vaccinated, but he has been vocal about his opposition to vaccine mandates.

In April, he reiterated his decision not to be vaccinated and cited it as a “human right.”

“I can really say that I stood firm on what I believed in, what I wanted to do with my body,” Irving said after the Nets practice in April. “I think that should be not just an American right, I think that should be a human right.”

It was only days ago that Kyrie lamented about his fellow anti-vaxx “brothers and sisters” being subjected to the same rules

Let him tell it, “This enforced Vaccine/Pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.”

Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status would have always been an issue, but it’s his fault that it’s largely the only issue people have reported on about him because he goes out of his way to be some kind of spokesperson and folk hero for fools that get their medical advice from YouTube videos.

Kyrie is a conspiracy theorist, and if his views on vaccinations and pandemics don’t confirm it, his embrace of Alex Jones certainly does. Like every conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer that I have come across, they claim they want respect for their decision, but ultimately, what they want is to convince you to think as goofilly as they do. Unfortunately, I feel for the people behaving just as selfishly as Kyrie without the talent, celebrity, and money to fall back on.

But if the man wants to continue behaving like the Al Sharpton of anti-vaxxers, he’ll continue to have no one to blame for his missing 100-something million himself.



Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”