Kyrie Irving missed more than half of his third season with the Brooklyn Nets because of mandates that kept him off the court unless he was vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Irving refused to take the COVID-19 shot and instead wait until the mandates were lifted. Irving was able to play in road games and later made his first home appearance of the season on March 27.
The star point guard vigorously defended his position to avoid the vaccine and told reporters during Nets media day on Monday his decision cost him millions.
"I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision. It was contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty with your future whether you’re gonna be in this league, whether you’re gonna be on this team," Irving explained.
"I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision. I was dealing with all those emotions while trying to secure my future for my family ultimately."
Irving opted into the final year of his contract after the Nets couldn't find a trade partner. He's set to earn $36.5 million this season but may have been in line for another long-term contract from the Nets.
Irving has been very vocal about his stance when it comes to being unvaccinated. He also was open in his disagreement with New York City Mayor Eric Adams for keeping the vaccine mandate among city workers.
"If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired," Irving tweeted last week. "This enforced Vaccine/Pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history."