The Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday morning that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving “will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.” At the moment, under New York City protocols, Irving becoming eligible to fully participate means receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, which he has staunchly opposed to this point and will reportedly continue to do, even amid Tuesday’s news. Until that sentiment changes, if it ever does, the Nets will continue on without him as they pursue a title.
Wednesday, James Harden spoke with the assembled media and said he and the team “respect” Irving’s conviction in his beliefs, but said his own goal remains a championship and that he has not spoken with Irving since Tuesday’s development.
James Harden has not spoken with Kyrie Irving since the decision was made for him to be away from the Nets. pic.twitter.com/hoq2YVVAKc
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 13, 2021
“We all love Kai. But as far as us, we have a job to do. And individually, myself, I’m still wanting to set myself up for a championship,” Harden said, via James Herbert. “I feel like the entire organization is on the same path and we’re a collective unit. So, we’ll keep pushing forward and we’ll try to do our best every single day to get better and keep going as a collective unit.”
Regarding Brooklyn’s decision to bar Irving from joining the team as a part-time member, Harden said “we had conversations as a collective unit,” but that he did not have input in the final verdict.
“I can only state my opinion and we’re gonna continue to move forward,” he said. “Obviously, we would love to have Kyrie here. I think for us, we just gotta focus on the guys in this locker room that’s here, that’s putting in the work every single day. That’s all we can control. That’s all we can focus on.”