Anti-Vax, Pro-Kyrie Irving Protestors Rally at Brooklyn Nets Arena Ahead of Home Opener

Anti-vax protestors descended on Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Nets game in support of Kyrie Irving, who is currently unable to play basketball at home games due to the city’s vaccine mandate.

Video from outside the arenas shows dozens of protestors waving flags, touting anti-vax signs and chanting “No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie.” According to Newsday’s Barbara Barker, the protestors managed to jump the barricades outside the arena and congregated at the entryway of the Barclays Center.

Sunday marked the Brooklyn Nets’ first home game of the 2021-22 season. While Irving is unable to play in New York City-area games due to the vaccine mandates in place for indoor sporting events and concerts, the Nets have also stated that Irving will not practice or play with the team at all over his “personal decision.”  

Irving recently said he felt “demonized” by the mandate and its fallout. “Why are you putting it on me?” he said. “This is not part of what’s going on with conservations with scientists and physicians and doctors. I’m just a hooper.” He added, “I haven’t hurt anybody. I haven’t committed a crime. I’m not out here acting dumb, stupid. I’m out here taking care of my family, my kids.”

Irving has emerged as the most prominent vaccine skeptic among NBA players who have been vocal about their refusal to get the shot. Rolling Stone reported last month on the league’s struggles to contend with the issue, noting that Irving has been following and liking posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims the vaccine is part of a scheme to connect Black people to a master computer. 

The misinformation campaign has spread across multiple locker rooms, according to Rolling Stone’s reporting, and as of the beginning of training camp there were around 50 to 60 players who had yet to get a single dose of the vaccine. 

Andrew Wiggins, a prominent player mentioned in the initial article who — as a Golden State Warrior — also plays in a vaccine-mandated market, received his vaccination prior to the start of the 2021-22 NBA season.

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