Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving said that he rejected a multiyear contract extension in the neighborhood of $100 million because he didn't want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. During the Nets' media day on Monday, Irving stated that the Nets gave him an ultimatum in relation to his vaccination status and getting a deal done.
Irving believed that the two sides were going to come to an agreement on a new deal prior to the starting of training camp in 2021.
"I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision," Irving said on Monday. "[Get this] contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there's a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you're going to be in this league, whether you're going to be on this team. So I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision."
"I didn't appreciate how me being unvaccinated came to be a stigma within my career that I don't want to play, or that I'm willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless."
Despite Irving's claims, Nets general manager Sean Marks disagreed with Irving's analysis of the negotiations between the two sides.
"There's no ultimatum being given here," Marks said. "Again, it goes back to you want people who are reliable, people who are here, and accountable. All of us: staff, players, coaches, you name it. It's not giving somebody an ultimatum to get a vaccine. That's a completely personal choice. I stand by Kyrie. I think if he wants, he's made that choice. That's his prerogative completely."
Irving ended up being limited to just 29 games during the 2021-22 season because New York City had a COVID-19 vaccinate mandate. As a result, the Nets point guard was unable to play in home games for the team.
Irving is currently in the final year of a four-year, $136.4 million contract that he signed back in 2019 when he teamed up with fellow superstar Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. The Nets star is slated to make $36 million in the last year of his contract.