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Silver, 59, spoke to TNT's Inside The NBA program Tuesday, telling the network his message for Irving, 29, is to get the vaccine not only to join in on the 2021-22 season, but also to keep his loved ones safe.
"I'd tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost, for himself and his family," Silver said. "Next, for his teammates and his community, and also for the league that I know he cares so much about."
“I'd tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family. Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”
Adam Silver on what he would say to convince Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated pic.twitter.com/CurKihqUVf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2021
Irving, the Nets' point guard, has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, despite New York City's vaccine mandate, which prevents anyone over 12 years old from entering "covered premises" in the city without proof of vaccination. The Nets announced earlier this month that Irving would not play or practice with the team until he is vaccinated.
"Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose," Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in Oct. 12 statement. "Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability."
In Tuesday's TNT interview, Silver said he understands "it's not just Kyrie" who is vaccine-hesitant, but insisted that "science is firmly on the side of getting vaccinated."
"Think where we were when we first stopped the season … and then we went to the bubble and we started last season, and then this vaccine came along and it's already saved tens of millions of lives," he said. "And I think at some point, for Kyrie to be an engaged member of society — putting aside this league — he needs to get vaccinated."
Silver continued, "That's the law in New York. The law in New York is if you want to play in an arena, if you want to visit an arena, [if] you want to participate in an activity in an arena, you need to be vaccinated."
Irving has claimed his unvaccinated status "wasn't an issue before the season started," telling his followers on an Oct. 13 Instagram Live that he "chose to be unvaccinated," a decision he asked people to "respect" as his own choice.
"I'm staying grounded in what I believe in," he said. "It's not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It's about being true to what feels good for me. I'm still uncertain about a lot of things. And that's okay. If I'm going to be demonized about having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, then that's just what it is."
When the Nets played against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Irving was notably absent. Ahead of the game, former NBA star Charles Barkley shared his thoughts on Irving's refusal to get vaccinated, echoing Silver's call to get vaccinated for others.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 20, 2021
"You don't get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people … I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down, for saying, 'No, we're not going to deal with this half-on, half-off,' " Barkley said NBA on TNT. "The only thing that bugs me is he's still going to make $17 million sitting at home."