Smith is now retired and a member of the North Carolina A&T golf team. Irving is now a star guard for the Nets — and sitting out, as he has yet to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
But while Smith and Irving are no longer teammates, it’s clear that Smith still has Irving’s back.
“Extremely proud of you bro!” Smith tweeted, tagging Irving.
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
Irving would be ineligible for all of Brooklyn’s home games, but could play in most road games. But the Nets have other plans.
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) October 14, 2021
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Nets GM Sean Marks in a statement.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. 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.
“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice.”
Irving, 29, averaged 26.9 points and 6.0 assists in 54 games last season, his second in Brooklyn.